Luna to be Sworn In as New LA County Sheriff

Los Angeles County Sheriff

Photo: Getty Images

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Former Long Beach police Chief Robert Luna will be sworn in Saturday 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 will be 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.

"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."

He said he is looking forward to "working with the talented and courageous sworn and professional staff of the sheriff's department who are dedicated to keeping our communities safe."

During the campaign, Luna attacked the incumbent over his torrid relationship with the county Board of Supervisors and accused him of ignoring the issue of deputy gangs within the department. Villanueva deflected such criticism, saying his battles with the board show he is a fierce defender of the department and its deputies, and insisting that he had gone to great lengths to attack and ban alleged deputy cliques in the agency.

Luna insisted the department was being "mismanaged" by Villanueva and said he will work to restore trust in the agency. He also touted his position as an outsider with no connections to the sheriff's department. Luna said he will work to "modernize" the sheriff's department and its jail system and improve the mental well-being of deputies and employees.

Luna this week 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, 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.

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