Robert Luna sworn in as new LA County sheriff

Luna will officially begin his sheriff duties on Monday.

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Sunday, December 4, 2022
Robert Luna sworn in as new LA County sheriff
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The former Long Beach police chief's victory in the Nov. 8 election marked only the second time in roughly a century that an incumbent lost a re-election bid.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Former Long Beach police Chief Robert Luna has been sworn in as Los Angeles County's next sheriff, capping a hard-fought campaign that led to the ouster of incumbent Alex Villanueva.

Luna will officially begin his sheriff duties on Monday. His Saturday swearing-in ceremony was held at the county Hall of Administration downtown.

His victory in the Nov. 8 election marked only the second time in roughly a century that an incumbent lost a re-election bid. The first time occurred four years ago when Villanueva defeated then-Sheriff Jim McDonnell.

WATCH | Robert Luna thanks supporters during swearing-in ceremony: 'We were outraised, but not outnumbered'

"I'm deeply honored and humbled that you have elected me as your sheriff,'' Luna said when he proclaimed victory in the race. "With your vote, you have entrusted me with a clear mandate to bring new leadership and accountability to the sheriff's department. And that's exactly what I will do.''

Villanueva denied Eyewitness News' request for a final interview as sheriff, but he posted a video message on Twitter Friday afternoon saying he's "incredibly proud" of what he and his team have accomplished over the last four years.

Villanueva also met with Luna, saying "I truly wish him the best in leading the greatest law enforcement agency on the planet."

This week, Luna announced the appointment of April Tardy, chief of the sheriff's department's Central Patrol Division, as his interim undersheriff, making her the first woman to hold that position in the agency's history. He also named Jason Skeen, currently the commander of Personnel Command, as his interim chief of staff.

Tardy and Skeen are both 28-year department veterans.

"Both of these talented and experienced law enforcement leaders share my vision of a sheriff's department that is effective, compassionate and constitutional, and I look forward to serving with them starting on December 5th,'' Luna said in a statement.

Luna recently vowed to uphold the promises he made on the campaign trail during his first address as sheriff-elect of L.A. County.

"Somewhere along the line, I felt that if I wanted to see the change, that I needed to become part of that change," said Luna.

With a 20-point lead and more than a million votes in his favor over Villanueva, Luna's pitch has turned into a promise.

"One, fight crime," Luna said, while listing his priorities. "Repair relationships with our community and across the board, address homelessness, modernize the department and improve employee wellness. A lot of this is what I talked about during the campaign."

Following through with what he talked about will be another task entirely in a department accused of perpetuating deputy gangs, overcrowding jails, fighting with fellow county leadership and dodging questions from the Civilian Oversight Commission, whose sole purpose is to hold the department accountable. Villanueva is due in court Nov. 21 because of his refusal to testify.

When asked whether Luna would be willing to testify to the Oversight Commission under oath regardless of what a judge rules, he said yes.

"From the very beginning, I said that as your sheriff, I will cooperate with civilian oversight, I will comply with subpoenas," said Luna. "Public safety is about public trust."

And he is asking for just that as he plans to start his term. Luna's transition team consists of three people: current Huntington Beach Police Chief Eric Parra, Vice President of the Los Angeles Police Commission Eileen Decker and Richard Conant, who retired as Deputy Chief of the Long Beach Police Department in 2019, having served under Luna.

Luna successfully ran a campaign on the idea that the people of L.A. County want change. The people have voted, and the ability to change will soon be tested, with the largest department of sheriff's deputies in the country.

ABC7 asked how he plans to get deputies on board with changes, if they are in fact drastic.

"For me it's a leadership issue. A leadership challenge, I should say. And for me coming in, just like I would do with any of you, you come in with your expectations but you also come in with the perspective that you're going to listen," said Luna.

Luna, who grew up in East Los Angeles, spent 36 years with the Long Beach Police Department, becoming chief in 2014.

He has a master's degree in public administration from Cal State Long Beach, and lives in that city with his wife, with whom he has two adult children.

City News Service, Inc. contributed to this report.