Former Sheriff Villanueva addresses critics in 1st episode of new radio talk show

Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s new talk radio show premiered on Monday morning, May 8, on CRN Digital Talk Radio — a conservative-leaning station that also boasts shows hosted by Republican personalities Dennis Prager and Charlie Kirk, among others.

The show, dubbed “The Resistance with Sheriff Alex Villanueva,” is slated to air from 10 to 11 a.m. every weekday, according to CRN. It will feature the former sheriff’s take on public safety, law enforcement and homelessness, alongside his answers to listener questions.

Villanueva was elected in 2018 as a reform-minded Democrat but often clashed with more progressive members of his party, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, other officials within the Sheriff’s Department and the media.

He faced criticism over allegations of gang activity among sworn sheriff’s deputies and his handling of use-of-force incidents while portraying himself as a political outsider battling entrenched bureaucrats and community activists. He lost his bid for reelection in November against current Sheriff Robert Luna, who previously headed up the Long Beach Police Department.

In a Saturday, May 6, announcement about the new show, Villanueva said he would use the platform to connect with the public and “continue the fight,” even though he’s no longer in office.

“We are at a crossroads at which many of our elected officials are no longer serving the public. They are serving themselves and their individual interests,” he said in the statement. “I want to stand with the people to fight the corruption. We are the resistance that will save our state and the country.”

Villanueva’s first episode focused largely on recent crimes that have occurred both around the country and in the Los Angeles-area, including the recent mass shooting in Allen, Texas, that left eight people dead.

“We had Monterey Park shooting and the Half Moon Bay shooting in the span of just a few days, and that just shows that violence doesn’t go to a blue state or red state exclusively,” Villanueva said during the Monday show. “You can find find violence and tragedy everywhere.”

He went on to discuss his takes on potential solutions to America’s mass shooting problem — there have been more than 200 mass shootings in the U.S. since January, according to the Gun Violence Archive — but was quick to state his belief that the issue isn’t one related to gun control.

“It’s called gun violence, but I’m sorry, it’s actually people violence,” Villanueva said. “(Its) people making decisions to harm other people. This is where it gets ugly, because now you have on the progressive (side), a district attorney that decided, ‘Well, let’s not prosecute people who actually have a firearm used in the commission of a crime because that becomes an enhancement in sentencing.”

LA County District Attorney George Gascon’s office did not return requests for comment.

Gascon has faced plenty of criticism for his more progressive-leaning policies on criminal justice since his November 2020 election. Political groups have twice attempted to recall him — once in 2021 and again in 2022 — though both failed to qualify for a ballot measure.

But he has also defended his policies in the past.

“Before I was elected to this position by over 2 million residents of Los Angeles County, a false narrative about me began, and it has continued ever since,” Gascon wrote in a letter to the Association of Deputy District Attorneys in early 2022.

ADDA members voted overwhelmingly in February 2022 to support the now-failed effort to recall Gascon.

“These fear tactics did not work then, and they are not working now,” the district attorney added in his letter. “Instead of focusing on political rhetoric, I want to focus on the issues facing the women, men and gender nonconforming deputy district attorneys that go to work each day to pursue justice.”

Villanueva, for his part, didn’t reserve his criticism only for Gascon. The former sheriff on Monday also criticized state Attorney General Rob Bonta, whose office did not return requests for comment, as well as the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. The supervisors, he said, focused on his administration rather than addressing crime and gun violence.

Supervisor Janice Hahn, the current chare of that panel, declined to comment.

Villanueva specifically took issue with Proposition 47 — a 2014 state ballot initiative that reduced certain low-level drug and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors — and Prop. 57, a 2016 voter-approved measure that provided incentives for incarcerated people who maintain a record of good behavior in prison. He also criticized Assembly Bill 109, which passed in 2011 and diverted less serious offenders to county jail and away from state facilities.

“The progressive DA movement is acting on top of the damage that Prop 47, 57 and AB 109 did — they’re making a bad situation even worse,” Villanueva said, arguing that the DA’s office chose not prosecute thousands of cases he brought during his tenure as sheriff because of the criminal justice reforms catalyzed by those laws. “And all that did was tell the community you can commit crime.”

CRN Digital Talk Radio is a Chatsworth media company founded in 1983 as Cable Radio Network and rebranded to its current name in 2007. It distributes talk radio and video broadcasts to various streaming platforms, including programs hosted by singer Pat Boone; veteran broadcaster Prager, who cofounded PragerU; and former National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch.

It’s unclear how much pull Villaneuva’s new show will have — though some of CRN’s most popular shows garner the attention of millions each week. Bill Martinez Live, another conservative talk radio show, for example, is syndicated on about 200 radio stations and regularly has about 2 million weekly listeners, according to CRN’s website.

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