'I wanted to change the tone:' Robert Luna evaluates first year as Los Angeles County sheriff

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Wednesday, December 6, 2023
Robert Luna evaluates first year as L.A. County sheriff
It's been one year since Robert Luna officially assumed his duties as the 34th sheriff of Los Angeles County. Now, he's looking back.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- It's been one year since Robert Luna officially assumed his duties as the 34th sheriff of Los Angeles County.

The former Long Beach Police chief ran for the office on a campaign to restore public trust and reform the sheriff's department.

Now, he's looking back.

"I also wanted to change the tone. I didn't want any more of us versus the world," said Luna when listing his priorities as sheriff.

He said he wanted more transparency and a better working relationship with the L.A. Board of Supervisors and others in the community. He says he immediately dealt with the issue of deputy gangs and cliques. There is now a new policy and several internal investigations underway but could not disclose much information.

"There has, and still is, at least three current investigations that involve that topic," said Luna. "There has been discipline associated with one; there are others that are still being investigated."

The sheriff said the department is also addressing concerns at the Men's Central Jail in downtown L.A. Video released last month of use of force incidents involving the sheriff's department sparked concern.

At that time, Luna stressed the videos are from before he took office. He says they have reduced force incidents by 31%, but feels a bigger change is needed.

He said Men's Central Jail needs to be closed down, adding that about 42% of the inmate population is mentally ill.

"Our facilities are almost 70 years old," said Luna. "They were built with a different mentality. We need to have facilities and staff, not just sheriff's staff, across the board that better assist ... they're our brothers and sisters. They're our neighbors, and we need to help them."

Luna said the department is understaffed by 1,200 deputies. It now has approval to hire eight academy classes but the shortage has been a strain on the department.

Luna's worried that many staff members are overworked and say it's leading to issues with employee retention.

Eight LASD employees committed suicide in 2023 and Luna believes all of this could be tied together.

"And reducing that staffing and overtime, I think, will also be positive in impacting our employees so they can spend more time with their families," he said. "Again, one of the toughest jobs in the world and we want to make sure we are taking care of our employees."

The sheriff said for the next year, he will continue to build relationships with the community, saying the needed changes and improvements simply can't be done by the department alone.