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Criminal Justice

Villanueva’s Latest Challenger Seeks to Become LA’s First Female Sheriff

A portrait of Britta Steinbrenner, wearing her LA County Sheriff's Department uniform
Sheriff's Dept. Captain Britta Steinbrenner will run for Sheriff in 2022.
(Courtesy Steinbrenner for Sheriff)
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L.A. Sheriff’s Captain Britta Steinbrenner announced Tuesday that she’ll seek to oust Sheriff Alex Villanueva from office and become the first female head of the department.

“It’s still a good old boys club,” Steinbrenner said of the nation’s largest sheriff’s agency. “That has to stop.”

One of her goals: to increase the percentage of women at the department from its current 18% to 30% by 2030.

Law enforcement leadership across the country remains overwhelmingly male. Fewer than two percent of America’s sheriffs are women, according to the National Association of Sheriffs.

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A Vow To Bring 'Positive Change'

Steinbrenner, 57, said in a statement that the department under Villanueva is headed in the wrong direction, citing “the continuing conflict with the Board of Supervisors and CEO, embarrassing efforts to rehire past employees, lack of addressing the good old boy network and deputy gangs.”

Steinbrenner has worked for the Sheriff’s Department for more than three decades — most recently as head of the County Services Bureau. In that capacity she oversees approximately 500 employees who provide building security and law enforcement services for six county hospitals, 85 libraries, and 320 county buildings, according to her résumé.

“I will bring my diverse experience, qualifications, and unblemished record to lead the rank and file of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to regain the public trust in partnership with our County’s elected officials,” Steinbrenner said in her statement. “I am prepared to bring positive change to a department in need of leadership, more so now than ever before.”

Steinbrenner holds a Master of Business Administration Degree and Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Administration/Management from the University of La Verne, along with an Associate of Arts Degree from Santa Monica City College.

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She is fluent in German and is the Department’s German Language Proficiency examiner.

Steinbrenner joins six other challengers to the sheriff, including former assistant sheriff and current LAX Police Chief Cecil Rhambo, Sheriff’s Chief Eli Vera, and Sheriff's Lt. Eric Strong. Enrique Del Real, Matthew Rodriquez and April Saucedo Hood also have filed candidate paperwork with the Registrar of Voters, but have not formally launched their candidacies.

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Frank Stoltze covers a new movement for criminal justice reform at a time when not everybody shares the same vision.