Which Beach In La Is Best

Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna on Wednesday, Dec. 1, formally announced his bid to unseat Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva during next summer’s election.

Luna, who is set to retire this month, launched his campaign during a press conference in Signal Hill. The 37-year law-enforcement official, flanked by Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and about two dozen other supporters, made the announcement a day after confirming his candidacy to the Southern California News Group.

“The Sheriff’s Department is in disarray,” Luna said during his speech. “To solve the problem, you have to be proactive. But first, you have to acknowledge there is a problem.”

Villanueva’s campaign manager, Javier Gonzalez, dismissed Luna’s candidacy in a Wednesday statement.

“We are not running against the Johnny come lately candidates,” he said. “We are running against the woke privileged elites and their non union fiends looking to privatize more government work to their grifter friends who run private nonprofit corporations.”

The East Los Angeles native, who has spent his entire law enforcement career in Long Beach, became the eighth person to enter the race against Villanueva — but is arguably the most well-known of the challengers.

The rest of the field includes several current and former Sheriff’s Department command staff members.

  • Long Beach Police Department Chief Robert Luna announces his candidacy for Los Angeles County sheriff, surrounded by supporters and some vocal detractors, at Hilltop Park in Signal Hill on Wednesday, December 1, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Long Beach Police Department Chief Robert Luna announces his candidacy for Los Angeles County sheriff, surrounded by supporters and some vocal detractors, at Hilltop Park in Signal Hill on Wednesday, December 1, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Long Beach Police Department Chief Robert Luna announces his candidacy for Los Angeles County sheriff, surrounded by supporters and some vocal detractors, at Hilltop Park in Signal Hill on Wednesday, December 1, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Long Beach Police Department Chief Robert Luna announces his candidacy for Los Angeles County sheriff, surrounded by supporters and some vocal detractors, at Hilltop Park in Signal Hill on Wednesday, December 1, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Long Beach Police Department Chief Robert Luna embraces Carmen Perez, former harbor commissioner and vice chair of the state Democratic Party, after announcing his candidacy for Los Angeles County sheriff at Hilltop Park in Signal Hill on Wednesday, December 1, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Long Beach Police Department Chief Robert Luna announces his candidacy for Los Angeles County sheriff, surrounded by supporters and some vocal detractors, at Hilltop Park in Signal Hill on Wednesday, December 1, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Long Beach Police Department Chief Robert Luna announces his candidacy for Los Angeles County sheriff, surrounded by supporters and some vocal detractors, at Hilltop Park in Signal Hill on Wednesday, December 1, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Long Beach Police Department Chief Robert Luna announces his candidacy for Los Angeles County sheriff, surrounded by supporters and some vocal detractors, at Hilltop Park in Signal Hill on Wednesday, December 1, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Long Beach Police Department Chief Robert Luna announces his candidacy for Los Angeles County sheriff, surrounded by supporters and some vocal detractors, at Hilltop Park in Signal Hill on Wednesday, December 1, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Long Beach Police Department Chief Robert Luna announces his candidacy for Los Angeles County sheriff at Hilltop Park in Signal Hill on Wednesday, December 1, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Long Beach Police Department Chief Robert Luna announces his candidacy for Los Angeles County sheriff, surrounded by supporters and some vocal detractors, at Hilltop Park in Signal Hill on Wednesday, December 1, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Long Beach Police Department Chief Robert Luna announces his candidacy for Los Angeles County sheriff, surrounded by supporters and some vocal detractors, at Hilltop Park in Signal Hill on Wednesday, December 1, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Long Beach Police Department Chief Robert Luna announces his candidacy for Los Angeles County sheriff, surrounded by supporters and some vocal detractors, at Hilltop Park in Signal Hill on Wednesday, December 1, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Long Beach Police Department Chief Robert Luna announces his candidacy for Los Angeles County sheriff, surrounded by supporters and some vocal detractors, at Hilltop Park in Signal Hill on Wednesday, December 1, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Long Beach Police Department Chief Robert Luna announces his candidacy for Los Angeles County sheriff, surrounded by supporters and some vocal detractors, at Hilltop Park in Signal Hill on Wednesday, December 1, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Long Beach Police Department Chief Robert Luna announces his candidacy for Los Angeles County sheriff, surrounded by supporters and some vocal detractors, at Hilltop Park in Signal Hill on Wednesday, December 1, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Long Beach Police Department Chief Robert Luna speaks to representatives of Black Lives Matter Long Beach after announcing his candidacy for Los Angeles County sheriff at Hilltop Park in Signal Hill on Wednesday, December 1, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Long Beach Police Department Chief Robert Luna greets supporters after announcing his candidacy for Los Angeles County sheriff at Hilltop Park in Signal Hill on Wednesday, December 1, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

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One, Eliezer Vera, said he was demoted from a department chief to commander after announcing his campaign. Another, Cecil Rhambo, moved from the Sheriff’s Department to become chief of the Los Angeles Airport Police.

Other announced candidates for sheriff include Eric Strong, an LASD lieutenant with nearly three decades of law enforcement service; former Sheriff’s Department Capt. Matt Rodriguez; and Britta Steinbrenner, April Saucedo Hood and Enrique Del Real.

Luna, meanwhile, has run the police department of LA County’s second-largest city since 2014.

That task includes overseeing about 800 sworn officers and 1,200 employees total, though that’s a fraction of the 10,000 sworn deputies and 8,000 civilian staff in the LA County Sheriff’s Department.

Still, Long Beach is one of the most ethnically, culturally and economically diverse cities in the county, as has some of the same public safety issues common to any major metropolis.

The Police Department, during Luna’s tenure and even before, has worked to evolve, sometimes on its own and sometimes because of pressure from outside events — such as the protests that swept the city and the nation in the wake of George Floyd’s murder last year.

The city has increased the number of Latino police officers in the city, for example. And having a family member associated with a gang or in prison no longer precludes you from joining the force.

Luna, who is the city’s first Latino police chief, has said that when he began his career in the mid-1980s, there were few other Latino officers. As of last year, that was up to 40%.

The police chief has also talked in the past about growing up in “an environment of poverty, blight and racial injustice” and how he’s long sought to improve the relationships between the police and people of color.

The Police Department has launched a pilot program called Neighborhood Walks, during which officers stroll the streets and talk to residents to improve relationships in the Washington neighborhood.

The agency revised its use-of-force policy last year to mandate reverence for life, medical assistance and a duty to intervene. And since 2016, use-of-force incidents have fallen by 27.5%, while citizen complaints have dropped 30.3%.

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But Luna has also cautioned the city against moving too fast on some reforms, including transferring certain calls from police to civilians, noting that a request for service could start out minor and become more serious.

As for the upcoming election, Luna will try to win leadership of a Sheriff’s Department that has been embattled of late.

Villanueva has butted heads with the LA County Board of Supervisors, the Civilian Oversight Commission and other county agencies. Most recently, the sheriff has fought COVID-19 vaccine mandates for his department.

Rhambo, in a written statement, said his focus in the race is on one person.

“My singular focus is on defeating Sheriff Alex Villanueva. Period,” Rhambo said, highlighting the 100 endorsements he has so far received. “That said, I believe in democracy and welcome anyone else to this race.”

Rhambo’s list of endorsements, however, is a bit smaller after Wednesday.

State Sen. Lena Gonzalez, who initially endorsed Rhambo, said on Wednesday that she had switched her support to Luna. Gonzalez, a former Long Beach councilwoman, opened Luna’s campaign event.

Garcia — a popular elected figure in Long Beach who campaigned with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris during the 2020 election — endorsed his police chief for sheriff as well.

“I have the highest regard for chief Luna,” Garcia said Wednesday. “He is honest, and brave, and has an incredible dedication to service.”

Luna on Wednesday also received well-wishes from the Long Beach Police Officers Association.

“We were surprised by the announcement,” union President Rich Chambers said in a text message. “He worked a long career and we thought he was going to retire. After hearing this news we wish him the best of luck and applaud his willingness to continue his career in public service.”

But Luna, despite being flanked by supporters, also gave his speech while a small group of protesters stood behind him and shouted.

The protesters held signs bearing the names police shooting victims from the last several years and shouted, “Shame.” Luna, the protesters said, had ignored problems between  police officers and the public.

The last few years have proven tumultuous for the Long Beach Police Department, which had to deal with the city’s worst mass shooting in 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic and then the political fallout from Floyd’s murder.

During last year’s city budget talks, Luna rankled at calls to further reduce police funding, calling it “irresponsible or even possibly negligent” to do so without proper planning.

Villanueva, for his part, has also argued against cuts to his agency — including further reductions to overtime — because of rising crime.

But Luna differed from his main opponent in several ways while answering questions Wednesday, including one about the a recent Rand Corporation report that said deputy gangs still exist within LASD — which Villanueva has disputed — and the sheriff not complying with Civilian Oversight Commission subpoenas.

“How do you repair trust?”  Luna said. “You listen to the supervisors. You do it by talking and listening.”

Luna struck a similar tone on Tuesday, when he first confirmed his candidacy.

“The current Sheriff doesn’t listen to his community or work with others,” he told SCNG, “which is putting our public safety at risk.”

Luna also said he supports the coronavirus vaccines and isn’t happy with the Long Beach Police Department’s current inoculation rate. The Police Department still has among the lowest percentage of vaccinated staff of any in the city.

If elected sheriff, Luna said, he would comply with the vaccine mandate.

Villanueva, meanwhile, did not bring up Luna’s plans to run against him during his weekly press conference on Wednesday. But when reporters mentioned it, the sheriff’s brief reply was a salvo against both his opponent and what he called the “establishment.”

“Actually, I take that as an endorsement that the political establishment wants a puppet sheriff and they have a casting call for as many applicants as possible for the next puppet sheriff,” Villanueva said. “It’s a free country, and anyone can run, and I look forward to the debates.”

Staff writers Eric Licas and Pierce Singgih contributed to this report.

Source : https://www.dailynews.com/2021/12/01/long-beach-police-chief-robert-luna-launches-bid-for-la-county-sheriff/

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