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LA County Sheriff Jim McDonnell Concedes To Alex Villanueva

L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell (L) faced challenger Alex Villanueva as he sought re-election on November 6, 2018. (Left photo by James Bernal for KPCC) (Right photo by KPCC)
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By Paul Glickman and Frank Stoltze

Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell has conceded defeat to challenger Alex Villanueva, marking the first time in about a century that a sitting L.A. sheriff has been voted out of office.

McDonnell called Villanueva after the latest update by the county registrar showed Villanueva about 125,000 votes ahead with only about 100,000 votes left to count.

Villanueva will be sworn in on Dec. 3. The retired sheriff's lieutenant, who never commanded more than about 40 deputies in three decades with the department, will take command of the country's largest sheriff's department, with more than 9,500 deputies and another 8,000 civilian employees.

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Villanueva will oversee crime fighting in all of unincorporated L.A. County and 44 cities. In addition, he'd be responsible for the problem-plagued county jails, which hold more than 18,000 inmates - one-third of whom are mentally ill.

After Villanueva declared victory on Nov. 16, LAist asked him what would be his first priority as sheriff. Villanueva, who ran as a reformer intent on getting rid of corruption at the top, said, "We're going to clean house."

In an interview on Nov. 21, Villanueva told LAist that he plans to eliminate the positions of two constitutional policing advisors who advise the sheriff and senior commanders on a variety of legally delicate matters, from enforcement of the department's use-of-force policy to the dispensing of discipline against deputies accused of misconduct.

Peter Bibring, director of police practices for the ACLU of Southern California, called the idea of eliminating the advisors "a troubling step in the wrong direction."

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