Moderated by Eyewitness News reporter Adrienne Alpert and hosted by Los Angeles County Professional Peace Officers Association, the debate featured many questions related to the current state of affairs inside the sheriff's organization.
WATCH FULL DEBATE HERE:
McDonnell spent time defending his career achievements in office while Villanueva discussed what he sees as the low department morale.
"The chief problem in the recruitment of the department is the man standing to my left and his name is Jim McDonnell," Villanueva said. "We need to turn this organization around. We need to encourage people to join on and that's by actually hiring people instead of bragging about firing them."
McDonnell, who has been involved with Los Angeles law enforcement for more than 30 years, directly responded to his opponent.
"What have you done to be able to move the organization forward, to be able to help increase recruitment and put us on track?" he asked Villanueva. "You talk about what's being done now. You've been in the organization. You didn't step forward, raise your hand and say 'Hey, let me help.'"
At one point, security removed a woman from the auditorium because she was yelling at McDonnell during the debate.
There were also protesters outside the L.A. Police Department headquarters on Monday evening.