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Troubling Deputy Reinstatements

Statement by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas on the Sheriff’s Recent Deputy Reinstatements

“We’ve seen the Sheriff reinstate individuals accused of domestic violence and excessive use of force, and he seems to think that he can continue doing this unilaterally. I assert that there is no upside to having the Sheriff’s Department tarnished by reinstating deputies who are not fit to serve. It does not help public safety or public confidence to reverse reforms that we have worked so hard to put in place.”

LA County Highlights Violence Prevention

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas with Los Angeles County and City officials at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Public Health highlighted ongoing and upcoming services to prevent violence. Photo by Dave Franco / Board of Supervisors

With communities still reeling from the Nipsey Hussle murder, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, along with Los Angeles County and City officials, highlighted ongoing and upcoming services to prevent violence.

The Supervisor and LA County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer also launched the Office of Violence Prevention, an announcement warmly welcomed by LA City Police Chief Michel Moore and Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas speaks at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Public Health. Photo by Dave Franco / Board of Supverisors

“I declare without reservation, qualification,  and an ounce of doubt that violence is absolutely preventable,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “The Office of Violence Prevention’s efforts will be focused on working upstream to address the root causes of violence, to preempt it from occurring.”

The announcement, planned months ago to commemorate National Public Health Week, took on new significance and urgency after the recent uptick in gun violence, including the recent shooting of the Grammy-nominated rapper, Nipsey Hussle

“Far too many people in LA County are being injured and killed whether it be by homicide, suicide, or intimate partner violence,” said Dr.  Ferrer. “This violence is preventable. It takes community voices and multi-sector collaboration to promote healing and address one of the most pressing public health issues of current times.”

Kids having fun during an LA County Parks After Dark program. Photo by Mayra B. Vasquez / Los Angeles County

“The murder of Nipsey Hussle this week was one devastating reminder that violence can rip families and communities apart,” said Councilman Harris-Dawson. “We desperately need to address all of the ways that violence impacts our communities. I am proud to stand with the County to get to work.”

“Too many times, people view law enforcement as just going after the offender when, in reality, our work is much broader and includes the prevention of crime and the protection of victims,” Chief Moore said. “Trauma can have a lasting impact and, too often, our officers do not have the resources to really help people  recover from those types of tragedy.”

“With the Office of Violence Prevention, I’m encouraged for the first time that the County of Los Angeles is etablishing a means to identify resources that exist, gaps that need to be filled, and coordinate the delivery of all those services to a County of more than 10 million people,” he added. “I’m encouraged that this type of innovation is going to result in Angelenos getting the necessary treatment and services that will help reduce and eliminate this cycle of violence.”

Besides the press conference, the event also featured a Community Dialogue on Violence, Trauma and Healing, as well as a tour of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Healing and Trauma Prevention Center in Willowbrook.

Celebrating a Significant Milestone for the Crenshaw/LAX Line

Metro trains line up at the new Southwestern Yard. Photo by Dave Franco / Board of Supervisors

Celebrating significant progress toward the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) joined federal, state and local elected officials and community leaders to mark the completion of the Southwestern Yard, designed and constructed to attain LEED Silver Certification with many “green” features. These features include: pollution reducing construction processes, easy access to public transportation for workers, treatment of storm water runoff and the use of low-emitting paints, sealants, coatings and materials. There is also energy-saving lighting and air conditioning.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas speaks at the ribbon cutting. Photo by Dave Franco / Board of Supervisors

“We are well on our way to connecting our public transit system to one of the world’s busiest airports,” said L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Mark Ridley-Thomas. “This gleaming new rail yard is part of the effort to get the Crenshaw/LAX Line up and running, and offering passengers a convenient, not to mention state-of-the-art, way to reach the airport.”

The $172-million rail maintenance facility that will serve the future Crenshaw/LAX Line and Metro Green Line was designed and built by Hensel Phelps Herzog (HPH) under contract with Metro. Design work began in June 2015, construction in May 2016 and work was completed in January 2019 with the project on time and on budget.

Metro’s Southwestern Yard, the Airport Metro Connector/96th Street Station, the Automated People Mover and the Aviation/Century Station will become the gateway to LAX for travelers and will provide better and equitable access to employment centers in this area.

Light rail vehicles will be maintained and inspected at the 115,000-square-foot facility where other work will be done including body repairs, painting, storage and cleaning and washing. In addition, the facility will house general administration and support service staff, miscellaneous maintenance shops and equipment housing and storage. The rail yard will have the capacity to store 70 light rail vehicles and will have about 200 employees.

“The Southwestern Yard facility is a much-needed asset for Metro’s rail operations team and will be used to bring quality and reliable service to this region using advanced technologies,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington. “Both the Crenshaw/LAX and Green lines will benefit from this facility, which will also help Metro deliver great service and an enhanced customer experience.”

The Southwestern Yard is part of the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project, the 8.5-mile light rail line that will meet with the Expo Line and connect with the Green Line near the Aviation/LAX Station. When the Crenshaw/LAX line opens in 2020 it will offer the communities of Crenshaw, Inglewood, Westchester and LAX a modern transit option that offers easy access to the rest of the Metro Rail system.

In 2020, Metro is expected to begin major construction on the Airport Metro Connector/96th Street Transit Station, which will be next to the new rail yard. The station will be the transfer point between local transit — including the Crenshaw/LAX Line and Green Line — and Los Angeles International Airport’s future Automated People Mover (APM) that will whisk riders to the airport terminals. The station and people mover are forecast to be complete in 2023.

LA County Counts in the 2020 Census

 Leaders join together for a “Census Call to Action” rally in downtown’s Grand Park. Photo by Bryan Chan / Board of Supervisors

Los Angeles County, City, and community leaders joined together for a “Census Call to Action” rally in downtown’s Grand Park to the County’s unprecedented partnership and to raise awareness exactly one year ahead of the 2020 census in an effort to ensure that hard-to-reach populations are counted.

“The 2020 census will significantly impact how the federal government allocates funding and resources,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “We are raising awareness a full year in advance of the 2020 census launch to ensure that Angelenos are fairly represented in the final census count.”

Los Angeles County is considered the hardest-to-count county in the nation with over 10 million residents. A Census undercount could translate to fewer federal funds for transportation infrastructure projects, economic development, and programs that help support our most vulnerable residents.

“The 2020 Census is the first census that will be done primarily electronically, creating an additional barrier for low-income families and communities of color. I am concerned that the effort to add a citizenship question may discourage responses, especially among immigrant communities. Today was a clear demonstration that LA County will work with our municipal and community partners to support our vulnerable communities. We embrace LA County’s diversity and we will make every effort to count every resident,” said Supervisor Hilda Solis. “An accurate census count is not only foundational to representative democracy, but it ensures that schools and communities throughout LA County receive their fair share of federal funding. The federal government must not leave our vulnerable communities underfunded and underrepresented. Everyone counts!”

The 2020 census will launch April 1, 2020. The census can shape many different local community benefits such as hospitals, fire departments, schools, and highways. Each year, the results help determine how more than $675 billion in federal funding is distributed to states and communities. The census is mandated by the United States Constitution. The U.S. has counted its population every 10 years since 1790.

Clearing Cannabis Convictions

Public Defender Ricardo Garcia, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Code for America founder and executive director Jennifer Pahlka, District Attorney Jackie Lacey,and Interim Alternate Public Defender Erika Anzoategui. Photo by Martin Zamora/Board of Supervisors.

Los Angeles County announced a partnership with the nonprofit Code for America that would automatically clear more than 50,000 eligible cannabis convictions under Proposition 64.

Code for America’s Clear My Record pilot program proactively identifies convictions that qualify for resentencing or dismissal under the ballot measure approved by voters in November 2016.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas joined District Attorney Jackie Lacey at a Hall of Justice press conference announcing the partnership.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas with Code for America founder and executive director Jennifer Pahlka. Photo by Martin Zamora/Board of Supervisors.

“The war on drugs led to decades-long racial disparities in cannabis-related arrests and convictions,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “We have a responsibility to right these wrongs by utilizing the latest innovations in technology, such as Code for America’s Clear My Record initiative, to ensure that people who have been disproportionately harmed by the war on drugs get the second chance they deserve.”

Last year, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas urged County leaders to develop a countywide plan to facilitate the resentencing of eligible cannabis convictions, and more recently called for utilizing innovative technology to accelerate such resentencing across Los Angeles County.

District Attorney Lacey said, “As technology advances and the criminal justice system evolves, we as prosecutors must do our part to pursue innovative justice procedures on behalf of our constituents.”

“This collaboration will improve people’s lives by erasing the mistakes of their past and hopefully lead them on a path to a better future,” District Attorney Lacey added. “Helping to clear that path by reducing or dismissing cannabis convictions can result in someone securing a job or benefitting from other programs that may have been unavailable to them in the past.”

Proposition 64 allowed certain cannabis convictions to be reclassified and resentenced. As of early 2018, however, fewer than 1,000 of those eligible for relief in Los Angeles County have filed a petition, partly because the process is cumbersome and time-consuming.

With the aid of Code for America’s Clear My Record algorithm, the District Attorney’s office would be able to o automatically and securely evaluate an individual’s eligibility for record clearance by reading and interpreting conviction data in just a few minutes. This requires no action on the part of the individual.

“In the digital age, automatic record clearance is just common sense,” Code for America founder and executive director Jennifer Pahlka said. “When we do this right, we show that government can make good on its promises, especially for the hundreds of thousands who have been denied jobs, housing and other opportunities despite the passage of laws intended to provide relief. Clear My Record changes the scale and speed of justice and has the potential to ignite change across the state and the nation.”