Sheriff Alex Villanueva and other department members mark Public Service Appreciation Week
On Wednesday, May 4, 2022, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva held a press conference to thank members of the Sheriff’s Department for the outstanding work they do for the community. He also highlighted various accomplishments from 10 different stations and sheriff’s offices in the department.
Every year since 1985, during the first week of May, a time is set aside to celebrate Public Service Appreciation Week. This is a time when the men and women of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department are recognized for their resilience and dedication as public servants.
Lt. Annadenise Briz of the Mental Health Assessment Team (MET) gave a brief summary of the team of highly trained Deputy Sheriffs who respond to calls involving a mental health crisis. The team was formed in 1993 with five teams and they are now 34 teams across the county. The team not only provides services to the public, but also trains other first responders locally and nationally. Britz also reminded the public of the Special Alert, a form family members or caregivers can fill out to alert the sheriff’s department of a family member or loved one with special needs. By completing the form, MPs will know how to best serve people when they are experiencing a mental crisis.
Lt. Geoffrey Deedrick of the Outreach Services for the Homeless (HOST) team gave a brief summary of HOST. Since its inception, the team has interacted with at least 70,000 people experiencing homelessness and to date has never used force or made an arrest during interactions. The team not only brings safety and security to a homeless encampment, but ultimately the community finds a clean and safe area.
Sergeant Henry Ramirez of the Organized Crime Task Force discussed an investigation that began April 7 at Los Angeles County Jails. A total of three inmates died of a fentanyl overdose, five other inmates overdosed but survived, five inmates took or sold narcotics, and a prime suspect has been identified.
Lt. Anthony Easter of the Narcotics Bureau spoke about 19 search warrants that took place on April 19-20, 2022 in the unincorporated area of East Los Angeles. The search warrants were made at illegally operating marijuana dispensaries. A total of 72 people were arrested, 1,200 pounds. of cannabis edibles were recovered, 761 lbs. of marijuana, a large quantity of methamphetamine, US currency and firearms were recovered, including an assault rifle and ghost guns. Easter thanked his team for their commitment to the work and he also thanked Sheriff Villanueva for his support.
Carson Station Deputy Adnan Ahmed shared a touching story about a service call involving an elderly resident. During the encounter, Deputy Ahmed discovered that the person was blind, had no food in his refrigerator and had no means of transportation. He spoke to neighbors and they confirmed that the lady lived alone. The Carson station contacted the local Walmart and they donated groceries which were delivered in person. The lady asked the deputies: “Who is going to pay for this?” The deputies told her it was free and she was extremely grateful for their actions.
East Los Angeles Station Deputy Moises Montes shared another heartwarming story about an incident that happened in early April. While patrolling the town of Cudahy, he observed a homeless man sleeping on the sidewalk. The individual said he had been evicted two weeks prior and was sleeping rough. Deputy Montes made several phone calls and managed to house him at the Salvation Army shelter in the town of Bell. The individual is very happy, but he wants to return to South Korea and enjoy the rest of his life there.
Captain James Powers of Lomita Station shared an incident of effective communication and working relationships with other law enforcement agencies that led to the arrest of individuals driving a stolen vehicle. The suspects had previously been involved in an assault with a deadly weapon while shooting in LAPD jurisdiction.
On April 27, Palmdale Station Deputy Olmos stopped a vehicle because the license plate belonged to another vehicle. During the investigation, three stolen catalytic converters were discovered, battery-powered “Sawzalls”, several blades, a jack and other tools used to cut catalytic converters from vehicles. The occupants of the vehicle were arrested on various criminal charges and their vehicle was impounded.
Temple Station Deputy Arthur Valenzuela and other Youth Activity League deputies participated in a clean-up activity at Pamela Park in the town of Duarte to celebrate Earth Day. The purpose of these activities is to provide role models and mentorship to young adults, changing lives in many cases and improving public safety at the same time.
Deputy Director Mike Leum of Reserve Force Detail, spoke about the program he oversees and praised the civilian volunteers and reservists who generously give their time to the service. There are currently 484 reserve deputies, and their work equates to an approximate savings of $7 million for Los Angeles County. The 2,500 civilian volunteers contributed 121,000 volunteer hours worth $3.4 million to the county. Last year, the search and rescue team carried out 715 missions. Leum also shared his own recent experience in Ukraine where he helped rescue orphans with special needs and brought them to their new families in the United States. The mission was carried out as a private citizen, but he acknowledged that his will and skill are the result of more than 30 years of search and rescue in the department.
Finally, Sheriff Villanueva shared his experience at the California Peace Officers Enlistment Ceremony where he supported the family of Deputy Thomas Albanese. Deputy Albanese was killed in 2021 in a collision at a Lakewood intersection while trying to pull a traffic stop. The two-day event began with a candlelight vigil where new additions to the memorial were unveiled, honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Sheriff Villanueva again thanked all members of the department who perform acts of great bravery and heroism, beyond the call of duty, to help and serve others while putting their own lives at risk.
Video press conference
Press conference material
Press Conference Slides – PDF