On Tuesday morning, Lt. Sidra Sherrod-Strong, who has been a member of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for 26 years, said in a press conference she is suing the department for retaliation that rained down on her, when she reported the multiple brands of what she described wrongdoing she witnessed.
The press conference was made more interesting by the fact that Sherrod-Strong held the event with her husband, Lt. Eric Strong, who is running for LA County Sheriff in the hope of replacing the present sheriff Alex Villanueva.
“Until recently I was the unit commander for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Food Services unit,” she said after introducing herself.
This is the unit that provides food services for, among other places, the county’s jail system, plus the county’s regional jails, and those of its 35 contract cities, for which the LASD provides policing.
It is also a unit that has a $30 million budget, Sherrod-Strong told those attending the presser (which can be watched virtually).
On October 25, she said was notified that she was being involuntarily transferred and was under “administrative investigation.” For what, wasn’t clearly
Sherrod-Brown was reportedly not given any paperwork that explained the transfer or its basis.
Her claim details the issues about which she raised the alarm, and was retaliated against subsequently, she said.
“I raised my voice, as I have done many times before, about issues there were important,” said Sherrod -Strong. Several of the conditions she flagged directly affected those jail residents who were in the county’s care.
One example, she said was what she described as “negligence” by unit managers that resulted in moldy food being served two days in a row to approximately 3,000 incarcerated people.
(On Monday night, when Fox 11 News broke the news of the whistleblowing and the lawsuit, Sherrod-Strong showed Fox 11 News reporters the photo below of extravagantly moldy bread, that was allegedly a sample of the spoiled food that she had flagged.)
In another instance, Sherrod-Strong said she raised the alarm when she found that $15 million had suddenly vanished from the unit’s bank account. “Fifteen million dollars had vanished from the food services budget overnight!” she told those watching the press conference.
According to Lt. Sherrod-Strong, her supervisor told her that the department was “likely hiding the funds,” because the board of supervisors was cutting the department’s budget “in the wake of a long list of disagreements between the sheriff and the board.”
Sherrod-Strong surmised that, unaware she was keeping track of the funds that the department believed the board would replace the missing $15 milion, “rather than let the inmates starve.” Eventually the $15 million reappeared.
And Sherrod-Strong has been moved and is being investigated.
Sherrod-Strong said she found the timing by the department to be “suggestive,” given her husband is now running for sheriff.
She has a point according to WLA’s own LASD sources who say that the lieutenant has been outspoken in the past, but reportedly without this kind of retaliatory action she now describes.
Sherrod-Strong’s husband, Eric Strong, for those who have forgotten, is one of the shortlist of people who hope to make it through the June primary race for Los Angeles County Sheriff, in order to face off with the controversy-drenched head of the nation’s largest sheriff’s department, Alex Villanueva, who is running for reelection November 2022.
On Tuesday, when it was his turn at the portable podium, Strong too said he did not see the timing of the actions against his wife as accidental.
“When I got into this race I knew it would be difficult, and it would be hard on my family. But I didn’t think,” he said, gesturing at this wife, “they would stoop this low.”
A broken culture
A few weeks ago, WitnessLA talked to Strong about the list of goals he said he would address first should he be elected sheriff.
“My platform is based on what I know is broken, and what our community is demanding their leaders take action to fix,” he told us.
WitnessLA: You’ve repeatedly said that would ban deputy gangs outright, and then “move decisively to eliminate them.” These deputy gangs have been around for approximately half a century and no one seems to have made a meaningful dent in the problem. How would you be different?
Strong: I think the first step is to say that they exist. We have to stop beating around the bush. We have to stop acting like these are social clubs, or softball teams. We have to say, “Hey, they’re here. And they’re a problem.”
We know that some of the deputies that have come forward and spoken against them, are being ostracized department for speaking up. So one of the things we need to do is make it so that deputy sheriffs who come forward and report misconduct are recognized for doing the right thing, not ostracized for it.
We really need to turn that culture around.
WLA: Briefly explain more about what needs turning around when it comes to LASD’s culture.
Strong: Okay, here’s the thing in law enforcement: we spent our entire career trying to get people to tell us what happened. You know, we contact victims, We find witnesses and ask, “Hey, can you come forward and tell us what happened? ”
But in own organization, the same thing we ask of community members, to report corruption and wrongdoing, is a considered bad thing. There’s something very wrong with that perspective.”
Strong who is running as a progressive, told WLA that he wants the communities that the department serves to see deputies “as part of the solution.” Not just people looking to make arrests.
“One of the biggest problems that we have is that deputies are evaluated based on statistics,” he said. “You’re an outstanding deputy if you’ve made the most arrests, written the most tickets, made the most car stops.”
“We need to find a way to measure our personnel without basing on how many arrests they can make.
“We really have to rebuild the community’s trust.”
Eric Strong is putting forth a strong (pun intended) reason for his candidacy for Los Angeles County Sheriff, but it is hard via his website to get more information on the kind of person he is. Military service & education level are strong indicators of a person’s character but with Eric Strong his website says
1. He was accepted into UCLA. This is a premier University, one of the best in the country, but did he graduate?
Being accepted into a University & graduating are two different horses; I wish he would clarify.
2. He was in the USMC. The Marines are this country’s premier fighting force, whether an infantry rifleman or a jet fighter pilot. What, exactly, did he do in the Marines? Website doesn’t say.
Once these questions get resolved my bet is that he’ll be the next Sheriff of Los Angeles County.
Why is she calling herself the whistle blower? She’s the one who discriminated, racial profiles employees and bullies them! She got moved because her along with her clique were taking food from the cafeteria without paying! She’s deflecting, trying to say the dept is discriminating against her! She’s a big joke and horrible supervisor! She’s making a big thing about a picture of moldy bread which wasn’t served! She reaching…..she’s under investigation for theft!
So, anonymous, couple points on your comments, with the caveat that I don’t know the lady. I have worked with Eric a bit and always found him to be personable and professional.
Taking food from the cafeteria is pretty vague. Free meals used to be the norm in custody when I worked it many years ago. If you’re suggesting something on a larger scale, i.e., your theft investigation claim, I can only say that an investigation is a long way from actual misconduct, as our current sheriff himself has pointed out in reference to his own administrative matters (which resulted in actual discipline, something you’re not even claiming occurred yet).
If the number of exclamation points in your comment is any indication, your feelings about the lady appear to be pretty strong, and you make a number of vague accusations which I’ve seen made by subordinates of supervisors who had to do their job and supervise. All in all, not a particularly compelling post and very light on specifics.
Even is there is an active investigation against this lieutenant, I would give that very little weight considering that the current sheriff created a covert unit to investigate his political opponents or anyone else who has irked him, with shockingly little results to show for the effort. Still waiting on the criminal charges against Huntsman that the sheriff’s supporters have assured us would be forthcoming.
Finally, I will follow the developments of this story with great interest, considering the irony of the current sheriff who prided himself on “speaking truth to power” and being a thorn in the side of the Department as a lieutenant who spoke his mind. I’m sure Lt. Sherrod-Strong will receive all the process she is due, as I can only assume the sheriff recognizes a kindred spirit and will ensure that she is fairly treated.
Lt. Eric confuses me with his progressive rhetoric. is the position of Lt and above based on the number of arrests, car stops and tickets written? I haven’t seen many of the brass out on the streets trying to hook and book.
And do I read the intent to promote Sergeant lists properly where most of the promotees are from non-patrol assignments?
“She got moved because her along with her clique were taking food from the cafeteria without paying! ”
She was stealing food from the county jail because everyone knows the county jail has some of the finest dining in Los Angeles.
Any jury would side with Sidra Strong, however I’m baffled by the former “ALADS” Union Buster, Villanueva.
Villanueva was against the very things that he is accused of doing.
ALL A LIE, SO IF THE FOOD WAS REALLY MOLDY AND SERVED AND YOU WERE DISGUSTED WHY DID IT TAKE YOU SO LONG TO REPORT….OHHHH WAIT MAYBE BECAUSE YOU GOT IN TROUBLE AND NOW YOU WANT TO TURN THE TABLE.
A couple of days ago the Culver City Democratic Club interviewed Eric Strong via You-Tube video.
The department has always investigated and disciplined food theft, from a captin who stole a case of steaks to a cook who stole a pound of hamburger and 2 brown onions. If this lieutenant was caught stealing food, she should be investigated as well, despite her rank and her husband running for sheriff.
I really don’t think that Lt Sherrod-Strong is that petty to be stealing inmate food. On her and her husbands salary they can purchase plenty of food. She is being targeted by the Deputy gangs because her husband running for the Top job – Sheriff of L.A. County