In a close election, McDonnell lost his bid for reelection to Alex Villanueva - a remarkable upset that saw an incumbent sheriff of the county voted out of office for the first time in over 100 years.
McDonnell, who trailed his opponent by more than 126,000 votes, conceded the race Monday.
I’ve had the opportunity to be a participant & a player in the finest law enforcement arena in America. I’m very proud of the tremendous work that the men & women of the @LASDHQ have done. I’m proud of the accomplishments that we’ve done to move the organization forward. pic.twitter.com/yy1WU5dmQi— Jim McDonnell (@LACoSheriff) November 27, 2018
On Tuesday morning, the outgoing sheriff thanked the men and women of the department and pointed to strides in reducing use-of-force situations and improving conditions in the agency's vast jail system.
He expressed his wish for the new sheriff's success but noted that it would not come easily.
"We can always throw rocks at whoever's sitting in this chair," McDonnell said. "But the reality is, I think, that once you sit here - and Sheriff-elect Villanueva will see that very quickly - that the perspective is different, that you have to work with an awful lot of people in order to be able to accomplish a very difficult and complex job."
Villanueva, a retired sheriff's lieutenant who served 30 years in the department, will become the county's 33rd sheriff despite being outspent 8 to 1 during the campaign. He is scheduled to be sworn in Dec. 3 at East Los Angeles College.
McDonnell said he has no plans to disappear from the law-enforcement world.
"I'm looking forward to the next chapter," he said. "But after almost four decades, I think about the great people I've had the opportunity and privilege to be able to work with, the challenges that so many have faced, the sacrifice of so many people I've known over those years who have given it all, whose name is on the memorial wall and who we pay tribute to forever. It's a lot to take in in a short period of time.''