Police Chief Jim McDonnell Is The Best Candidate To Lead the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department
For the first time in years there is no incumbent running for the office of Los Angeles County Sheriff. The scandals that have plagued Los Angeles County’s largest law enforcement bureau are well documented with allegations of police brutality, inmate cruelty, nepotism and a pay to play environment sweeping the department. There are seven candidates vying for the position but only one, Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell who thought enough of the African American Community to come to the Sentinel to speak one on one about why he believes he is the best candidate to lead LASD out of troubling times and into a new era.
McDonnell has worked in law enforcement in Los Angeles County for the past 21 years. He came to Los Angeles from Boston in 1981, graduated from the Los Angeles Police Academy and worked his way up through the rank and file ultimately serving as a first assistant police chief under former LAPD Chief William Bratton. In March of 2010 he was appointed to the position of police chief for the city of Long Beach where he currently serves.
McDonnell is a proven and respected leader in local, state, and national law enforcement and criminal justice bodies. He is the immediate past president of the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs’ Association, a former president of the California Peace Officers’ Association, and a board member of the Peace Officers’ Association of Los Angeles County.
As an expert on community policing strategies, McDonnell has employed his experience collaborating with community leaders in the many diverse neighborhoods across Los Angeles County to enhance community relations and promote safe neighborhoods. McDonnell’s community policing plan was the foundation of Chief Bill Bratton’s efforts to refocus and reform the LAPD. He was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to serve as a member of the California Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards & Training (POST) and was reappointed to serve a second term by Governor Brown. He is also chair of the Law Enforcement Advisory Committee for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
In a one on one interview with The Sentinel’s Editorial Board Chief McDonald shared his views on why he believes the time is now for his leadership as the head of LA County Sheriff’s Department. His views on community policing, reform policies of the incarceration system and how he intends to change the attitude and culture of one of the state’s largest law enforcement bureaus.
McDonnell said that when he first joined the Citizens Commission on Jail Violence, “I thought I knew what the problems were and how to resolve them. But, as I started interviewing officers, inmates, support staff, doctors, nurses, psychologist, psychiatrist Chaplin’s” and others involved in the jail system I discovered an attitude of abuse and neglect which started from top and worked its way down. “What was most troubling to me was this culture of pay to play and favoritism” it was an attitude where issues were ignored or often encouraged. “When you go to jail you are there to await trial you are not there to be punished or brutalized” but as McDonnell states was often the case.
Ultimately the county of Los Angeles has paid over 100 million dollars in settlements as the result of the culture within the organization, which as of today has resulted in 20 officers being indicted for wrong doing.
McDonnell believes he can change that. He says that for years the Sheriff’s Department and its leadership has come from within. But he sees as a result of these previous practices it is time for leadership to come from within law enforcement but from outside of the Sheriff ‘s Department.
For years the policy within the department has been where employees first work in the jails, serve their time there (6-7 years) and then are transferred to the streets. Those who don’t want to be there, are just serving time just like the inmates.
“We have to change this policy,” states McDonnell.
“We have to have people working in the jails who want to be there. Who fit the profile for people who can and will do the best job, not let this be seen as punishment for new hires.”
The chief also wants to implement community policing just as he has been a part of in Los Angeles and has implemented in Long Beach. Since McDonnell became the chief of Long Beach crime has been at an all- time low and is projected to be even lower this year. This is the direct result of his community policing policy. He believes this same formula can work within the much larger Sheriff’s Department.
“The people who work in the sheriff’s department should reflect the diversity of Los Angeles County. We need to do community outreach and recruit officers from within the communities we serve,” he said.
McDonnell believes he can restore the public’s trust and the community’s faith of the law enforcement organization. The leadership he has shown and the lesson he has learned over a life’s work within law enforcement and the fact that he has been a part of two previous police administrations responsible for drastic reform and which have undergone dramatic change helped prepared him for this task and will enable him to create an organization which is looked upon as a leader in the county and a respected law enforcement agency throughout the nation.
It is for these reasons and many more that the Los Angeles Sentinel proudly endorses Police Chief Jim McDonnell for Los Angeles County Sheriff.