Robert Luna sworn in as LA County Sheriff

During his swearing-in ceremony on Saturday, Sheriff Robert Luna pledged to lead with a spirit of integrity, responsibility and collaboration, eager to mark a new era for the department after four years under the direction of his controversial predecessor.

“I want to thank the voters of Los Angeles County for electing me 34th sheriff,” he told the crowd, “and giving me a very clear mandate to bring new leadership and new responsibility.”

Because Saturday’s ceremony at the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration was something of a formality, Luna will officially take office Monday noon, replacing Alex Villanueva.

Formerly Chief of Police in Long Beach, Luna – whose diversity file in this department emerged as a common criticism of his opponent during the campaign – ultimately sailed to a decisive victory on Villanueva, whose tenure marked a particularly chaotic period for a department long accustomed to tumult.

On Wednesday, Luna announced that one of her first steps would be to appoint department veteran April Tardy as the agency’s deputy, marking the first time in the department’s history that a woman has held the position. . Tardy is also black, which is especially significant given the long history of racial bias within the sheriff’s department.

Early Saturday, a group of deputies lined up outside the county administration hall to participate in the swearing-in ceremony which began at 11 a.m. As they were chatting, catching up, a man in a suit approached, smiling.

“New chapter today,” he told them. “We’ll see how it rolls.” Several deputies nodded.

During the ceremony, Robert Garcia, the outgoing mayor of Long Beach, spoke about working alongside the new sheriff while Luna served as police chief. He was a collaborative, strong and kind leader, said Garcia, who was recently elected to the US House of Representatives.

Garcia then swiveled to look at several members of the supervisory board, who had very publicly clashed at Villanueva.

“You’re about to get the best of Long Beach,” he told them. “A leader who will work with you.”

“We’ll take him,” supervisor Janice Hahn whispered aloud, smiling.

Cesie Alvarez, Luna’s daughter, then addressed the crowd, saying that although she initially advised him against campaigning for sheriff – he deserved some time off to relax, she told him. says – she quickly realized he was the perfect person for the job.

He’s an attentive listener, eager to take his sometimes overemotional calls, she says, the kind of person who goes to church every week, carefully takes sermon notes, and who, on election night frantically, noticed she hadn’t had lunch and made her a turkey sandwich.

“My dad is a really good guy,” she said, noting that he hated it when she called him dude. He nodded.

Minutes later, during the official pinning of his new badge, his wife, Celines, stood beside him, clipping the pin onto his beige uniform.

“Ouch!” Luna exclaimed, wincing then smiling. “I laugh.”

After a judge swore him in, Luna made brief remarks. He began by acknowledging the Academy’s Class 464 recruits, several of whom were injured when an SUV veered into the wrong lane during practice last month.

“Just absolutely heartbreaking,” he said. “Please keep them in your prayers.”

He then told the crowd that he was incredibly honored to stand before them in the traditional beige and green sheriff’s uniforms, saying it brought back memories of his childhood in East LA and how deputies he had seen patrolling at the time. had inspired him.

“When my friends were playing cops and robbers, I always chose to be the cop,” he said.

“We have to stand up for good policing,” he continued, “but I understand that in order to do that, it’s our responsibility to expose bad policing.”

Luna said he had made mistakes over the years, including during his tenure as police chief, but admitted them.

“I’m not afraid to tell people I messed up, and I will continue to do so,” he said, adding that the department has work to do.

“We need to weed out the deputies gangs,” he said, referring to groups of deputies, which have existed in the department for decades and have long been accused of using violent and intimidating tactics.

While Luna didn’t take any questions from the media at Saturday’s ceremony, he sat down for an extensive interview. with The Times earlier in the week. Its main goals, he said, were to reduce crime, tackle homelessness and restore public confidence in the department.

In the days following his election, Luna said, he had spent time meeting with the department’s top watchdog, Inspector General Max Huntsman, as well as the five members of the Supervisory and District Board. Atti. George Gascón – all of whom had publicly strained relations with his predecessor.

“There are, unfortunately, fractured relationships that need to be repaired,” he said. “Sometimes how you approach governance makes a huge difference.”

Luna said he was determined to address the pervasive problems within the department, adding that he had already begun to have discussions with some outside agencies about investigating deputy gangs. He intends to offer “full cooperation” to the agencies he has spoken with, he said, but declined to name the agencies.

“We’re going to sit down with them, and I want to know: were there any obstacles?” he said. “Does anyone resist giving you records, for example?”

The leadership structure of the ministry has changed several times over the past few years. Luna is now the fourth-highest-ranking person since Lee Baca resigned eight years ago, amid a federal corruption probe that led to a prison sentence.


Los Angeles Times

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