County sher­iff talks to SCV group

The Signal - - FRONT PAGE - By Gina En­der Sig­nal Staff Writer

Re­gard­ing big-pic­ture crime is­sues and plans for the Los An­ge­les Sher­iff’s Depart­ment, Sher­iff Jim McDon­nell spoke with the Santa Clarita Val­ley Chap­ter of the Los An­ge­les County Lin­coln Club on Fri­day af­ter­noon.

Hunt Braly, chair­man of the lo­cal Repub­li­can group, ex­pressed

his sup­port of the depart­ment within the com­mu­nity.

“Law en­force­ment is so im­por­tant in help­ing us keep what we want and need,” Braly said.

McDon­nell shared the prob­lems the sher­iff’s depart­ment faces and tied in prob­lems with crime, drugs and hu­man traf­fick­ing lo­cally and na­tion­ally.

The sher­iff’s depart­ment has lim­ited re­sources but does the most with what they have, McDon­nell said.

“We are re­ally stretched very thin,” McDon­nell said. “We’re try­ing to be as smart as we can with our re­sources.”

Com­bat­ting crime

The county has both the largest jail sys­tem in the na­tion and the largest men­tal health fa­cil­ity, McDon­nell said.

Among the key crimes McDon­nell dis­cussed was il­le­gal drug use in light of the na­tion­wide opi­oid epi­demic. Ac­cord­ing to McDon­nell, how­ever, the prob­lem is not as bad in Cal­i­for­nia as it is in other states.

He high­lighted the depart­ment’s re­cent use of Nar­can, an an­ti­dote that sher­iffs use on peo­ple who over­dose.

While McDon­nell said many peo­ple as­sume hu­man traf­fick­ing is not a prob­lem in the U.S., the sher­iff said it is a prom­i­nent is­sue in L.A. County.

Re­cently, sher­iffs made 650 ar­rests re­lated to hu­man traf­fick­ing and have res­cued over 175 vic­tims.

Their goals in end­ing hu­man traf­fick­ing are to res­cue the vic­tims while go­ing af­ter the crim­i­nals who sell­ing and buy­ing the vic­tims, he said.

Af­ter a ques­tion re­gard­ing the pos­si­ble im­ple­men­ta­tion of sanc­tu­ary cities, McDon­nell said he was against them and wants to en­sure Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms en­force­ment can in­ter­fere with vi­o­lent crim­i­nals who are un­doc­u­mented.

Much of McDon­nell’s con­cern was for vic­tims or wit­nesses who are un­doc­u­mented and are threat­ened to be re­ported by crim­i­nals. It is im­por­tant to main­tain the trust be­tween vic­tims and law en­force­ment so crim­i­nals do not go un­pun­ished, McDon­nell said.

Pro­tect­ing against ter­ror­ism

Re­gard­ing ter­ror­ism, McDon­nell said com­mu­nity mem­bers should be aware that an act of ter­ror could hap­pen at any time and in any place.

“De­spite the fact that we feel safe here, we have to stay vig­i­lant,” he said.

Since Los An­ge­les County is com­prised peo­ple from ev­ery­where, an act of ter­ror has a nexus to the rest of the world, McDon­nell said.

Ter­ror­ism does not al­ways look like mass at­tacks, he said, but smaller in­ci­dents of vi­o­lence.

Na­tion­wide, there are about 1,000 ter­ror­ism in­ves­ti­ga­tions in progress at any given time, he said.

Cur­rently, there are no cred­i­ble ter­ror­ism threats in L.A. County, ac­cord­ing to McDon­nell, but he said that could change at any time.

Help­ing youth

Of­fi­cers work with about 35,000 chil­dren and teens across the county, he said, in­clud­ing their work through the Sher­iff’s Youth Foun­da­tion, the Spe­cial Olympics and ath­letic, home­work and pen pal pro­grams.

The school re­source of­fi­cer pro­gram, which was re­cently up for dis­cus­sion by the Board of Su­per­vi­sors, will have to prove its ef­fec­tive­ness in help­ing stu­dents by pro­vid­ing re­ports quan­ti­fy­ing the pro­gram’s suc­cess.

It is more im­por­tant to know that stu­dents are build­ing re­la­tion­ships with of­fi­cers and see them as some­one they can trust, he said.

“They saw that cop as a hu­man be­ing,” McDon­nell said. “It put a hu­man face on the sher­iff’s depart­ment.”

Katharine Lotze/The Sig­nal (See ad­di­tional pho­tos on sig­nalscv.com)

Los An­ge­les County Sher­iff Jim McDon­nell ad­dresses the Los An­ge­les County Lin­coln Club dur­ing a monthly meet­ing at Va­len­cia Coun­try Club on Fri­day.

Katharine Lotze/The Sig­nal (See ad­di­tional pho­tos on sig­nalscv.com)

Los An­ge­les County Sher­iff Jim McDon­nell ad­dresses the Los An­ge­les County Lin­coln Club dur­ing a monthly meet­ing at Va­len­cia Coun­try Club on Fri­day. McDon­nell spoke about crime, youth and ter­ror­ism.

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