Ahead of the June 7 primary, Los Angeles County Sheriff candidate Cecil Rhambo wants voters to know that the cornerstones of his campaign are changing deputy culture and dealing with deputy gangs, prison reform and reentry programs.
If elected, he would inherit a plethora of department challenges, but he is already laying out plans to deal with them. If elected, Rhambo will be the first African American sheriff in L.A. County.
Recently, Rhambo called for the resignation of current Sheriff Alex Villanueva after a whistleblower revealed that Villanueva covered up video of a deputy with his knee on the neck of an inmate for months, and then retaliated against those who called him out on it.
“This is just one incident that was revealed due to a leaked video, but who knows how many more very disturbing issues have been covered up under this administration’s corrupt and lawless tenure,” Rhambo said in a statement last month. “L.A. County deserves better.”
For his part, if elected, he will work on mandatory reporting policies and call for immediate investigations into misconduct, he told the Sentinel last week. And, he said he believes that “community policing has to become a philosophy.”
There are at least 18 active deputy gangs within the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. The 1992 Kolts Commission report said that they were found “particularly at stations in areas heavily populated by minorities — the so-called ‘ghetto stations’–and deputies at those stations recruit persons similar in attitude to themselves.”
Rhambo has been a longtime public servant in the county, having worked with Assemblymember Mike Gipson and State Senator Steve Bradford on law enforcement and gang legislation.
And, “when the Sheriff’s Department came under fire from the ACLU and the FBI for prisoner abuse, Rhambo stood up to his boss, then-Sheriff Lee Baca, and other people in leadership.
“Rhambo urged Baca to stop hiding an inmate informant from FBI agents who were investigating the abuse and fully comply, but was ignored. Rhambo eventually testified against the LASD’s corruption, resulting in the imprisonment of Baca and 11 deputies,” according to his campaign website.
Currently, Rhambo serves as the Chief of Airport Police at LAX. He was raised by his parents in Compton and South Los Angeles after being adopted from Korea as an infant, graduating from George Washington High School in the mid-1970s.
After earning a degree from Humboldt State University, Rhambo joined the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and began a 33-year career in law enforcement. He worked all over L.A. County in patrol and other assignments, including narcotics in an undercover capacity for both the county and as a deputized federal agent.
In addition to dismantling deputy gang culture, Rhambo plans on addressing homelessness, reducing crime and ending the school to prison pipeline.
His endorsements include California State Controller Betty Yee, California Legislative Black Caucus Chair and State Senator Steve Bradford, California State Senator Sydney Kamlager, California Assembly Democratic Caucus Chair and State Assemblymember Mike Gipson, California Progressive Caucus Founder and State Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer, California State Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, Former California State Assemblymember Autumn Burke, Former California Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon. Former California State Assemblymember Christy Smith, Former California State Senator Isadore Hall, California State Assembly Speaker Emeritus John A. Pérez, in addition to several organizations throughout the county.