Public Safety Budgets
Money: How is L.A. County’s Public Safety Budget Prioritized?
On Thursday, April 1, 2021, the Commission held Part 1 of the conference on public safety budgets where subject matter experts from the County described the budget process, their department's public safety budget priorities and highlighted opportunities for community feedback. Speakers included: Lael Rubin, Commission Chair & Former Deputy District Attorney; Casimiro U. Tolentino, Commission Vice Chair, Former Administrative Law Judge for the State of California; and L.A. County representatives: Chief Executive Office Senior Manager Sheila Williams; Sheriff’s Department Administrative Services Division Director Conrad Meredith; Sheriff’s Department Personnel Division Commander John McBride; Mental Health's Director Jonathan E. Sherin; and Probation's Administrative Deputy Robert Smythe. Play the video below or view the Webex recording.
Money: Community Voices on L.A. County Public Safety Spending
On Thursday, April 8, 2021, the Commission held Part 2 of the conference on public safety brought together community and County leaders, academics, law enforcement professionals and members of the public to highlight communities’ thoughts on the L.A. County budget process and public safety budget priorities. Speakers included: Lael Rubin, Commission Chair & Former Deputy District Attorney; James P. Harris, Civilian Oversight Commission member & Former Sheriff’s Lieutenant; Greg Hellmold, Auditor-Controller Office of County Investigations; Jody David Armour, Professor of Law, University of Southern California; Harry Leon, Crescenta Valley Town Council President; and Ivette Alé, Dignity and Power Now. Play the video below or view the Webex recording.
Budget Survey & Questions for the Panel:
Civilian Oversight Commission Chair Former Deputy District Attorney
Lael R. Rubin, a former Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney for 34 years, tried complex cases and, as a manager for 12 years, she worked with community and law enforcement groups to develop policies which improved the criminal justice system. In addition to drafting and implementing the District Attorney’s Three Strikes policy, Lael worked with Stanford Law School and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund to change the Three Strikes law statewide. She worked collaboratively to create the voter initiative, Proposition 36, in 2012, which was enacted as law. This law required that the third offense, in most instances, be serious or violent, thereby eliminating the onerous result of sentencing someone to 25 years to life for a minor offense.
Lael is also an expert on discovery and Brady matters. She led a task force of prosecutors, defense counsel and attorneys representing law enforcement to draft and implement methods of obtaining material in the possession of law enforcement. This material, complying with state and federal law, would then be provided to defense counsel in criminal cases in order for a defendant to have a fair trial. She developed policy and training on a number of issues, including forensic sciences and DNA. From 2005 until 2009, Lael supervised the Appellate Division which included oversight of habeas corpus litigation and claims of wrongful conviction. She also argued cases in the Appellate and California Supreme Courts. Lael is a skilled consensus builder and continues to work to improve the criminal justice system.
Following her retirement from the District Attorney’s Office in 2013, Lael volunteered with Public Counsel to assist veterans with criminal justice issues and served as a resource on immigration and domestic violence issues. Lael is currently vice chair of the Santa Monica Airport Commission. The Airport Commission acts in an advisory capacity to the City Council on matters relating to the Airport and aviation matters generally as they affect the City. The Commission also considers and recommends rules and regulations for the management and operation of the Airport. Lael received her B.A. degree with honors from the University of Michigan and her J.D. degree from the University of West Los Angeles School of Law. She is admitted to practice in California State Courts, U.S. District Court for the Central District and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Casimiro Urbano Tolentino
Commission Vice Chair & Former Administrative Law Judge for the State of California
Casimiro Urbano Tolentino is a retired Administrative Law Judge with the State of California (19 years). His prior positions included Assistant General Counsel for the CA Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), Regional Director for the CA Agricultural Relations Board (ALRB), and Regional Attorney for the ALRB and the CA Public Employment Relations Board. He has served as President of the LA City Civil Service Commission and Vice-Chair of the LA City Fire Commission. He has cofounded and served on non-profit community boards in Los Angeles.
Judge Tolentino graduated at UCLA with a BA in Zoology and JD in Law. He was an Honor Senior and a University Marshall. He co-edited a Pilipino Anthology, Letters in Exile, and taught Pilipino American History at UCLA. He has been inducted into the Montebello High School Alumni Hall of Fame.
Judge Tolentino is married to Jennifer and has two adult children.
Senior Manager, Los Angeles County Chief Executive Office
Sheila Williams is a Senior Manager in the Budget and Operations Management Branch of the Chief Executive Office and is responsible for leading, coordinating, monitoring, and evaluating processes, activities and services of the Public Safety, Operations and Community and Municipal Services Cluster. This includes implementation of Board directed policies and County programmatic goals of the cluster which consists of the direct oversight and management of all financial, personnel, operational and programmatic functions; ensuring the integration of County services and the optimal use of resources; and the continuous improvement of the County's organization and operational processes.
Ms. Williams has more than 25 years of experience in County government as an administrator over budgeting, revenue generation, contracts, grants, capital projects and formulating policy. Ms. Williams earned a Bachelor’s degree from University of California at Berkeley, Paralegal Certificate from University of California at Los Angeles and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from California State University, Long Beach.
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
Division Director Conrad Meredith, who has nearly 37 years of varied County experience including over 20 years with the Sheriff’s Department, oversees the Administrative Services Division which includes the bureaus of Financial Programs, Fiscal Administration, Contract Law Enforcement, Facilities Services, and Facilities Planning as well as the Department’s Board Liaison Team. In addition, Mr. Meredith maintains close work relations with the Personnel Administration Bureau.
Mr. Meredith’s responsibilities include the development and monitoring of the Department’s $3.3 billion dollar annual operating budget. Mr. Meredith’s collateral functions include committee member of the California State Sheriffs’ Association Foundation Financial Managers Forum and active participant of the national Major Cities Chiefs Association Financial Management Conference.
Mr. Meredith is a native of Los Angeles and attended Loyola High School. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Loyola Marymount University and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Southern California.
Jonathan E. Sherin, M.D., PH.D.
Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health
Dr. Jonathan Sherin is a longtime wellbeing advocate who has worked tirelessly throughout his career on behalf of vulnerable populations. In his current role as Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH), he oversees the largest public mental health system in the United States with an annual budget approaching $3 billion.
Prior to joining LACDMH, Dr. Sherin served for over a decade at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) where he held a variety of posts, most recently as chief of mental health for the Miami VA Healthcare System. He has also held a variety of academic posts, formerly as vice-chairman for the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Miami, and currently as volunteer clinical professor at both UCLA and USC.
In addition to his leadership in the health and human services sector, Dr. Sherin has made significant contributions to the field of neuroscience, which include seminal sleep research studies, published in Science magazine, and a conceptual model of the psychotic process for which he received the prestigious Kempf Award from the American Psychiatric Association.
Dr. Sherin completed his undergraduate work at Brown University, his graduate studies at the University of Chicago and Harvard Medical School, and his residency in psychiatry at UCLA.
Administrative Deputy, Los Angeles County Probation Department
Robert Smythe serves as the Probation Department’s Administrative Deputy. He is responsible for a variety of administrative functions including a budget of over $1 billion, human resources operations for 6,000 employees, information technology, facilities, procurement, contracts, and approximately 775 team members.
Robert has previously served as Chief of the Auditor-Controller’s Audit Division, as a Chief Investigator conducting fraud investigations, and in operational capacities managing juvenile halls and camps. He has also held a variety of leadership positions in professional organizations, and has spoken at conferences across the country on topics involving auditing, accounting, fraud prevention, internal controls, and information technology security. And, he taught accounting and finance courses for over twenty years at the University of Southern California.
James P. Harris
Former Sheriff’s Lieutenant
A lifelong resident of Los Angeles County, Mr. Harris spent 35 years with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department working in variety of assignments in custody, courts, patrol, and administration. He retired in 2010 at the rank of lieutenant. He was staff to the Sheriff’s Department’s original Executive Force Review Committee.
He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from California State University Los Angeles and an Executive Masters in Leadership degree with a Certificate in Public Management from the University of Southern California. He attended the 215th Session of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy, and the Police Executive Research Forum’s Senior Management Institute for Police, as well as the Leadership Development Program at Cornell University.
Appointed by Supervisor Knabe and re-appointed by Supervisor Hahn, Mr. Harris is an original member of the Civilian Oversight Commission and serves on 8 of its ad hoc committees.
Chief Investigator, Office of County Investigations Division
Los Angeles County Department of Auditor-Controller
Greg is currently a Chief Investigator with the Los Angeles County Department of Auditor-Controller’s Office of County Investigations (OCI), where he assists in the administration of the Division consisting of 30 law enforcement professional and support staff that administer and operate the County Fraud Hotline, and conduct criminal and administrative investigations of fraud, waste, and abuse within County government.
Greg began his professional career as an internal auditor with the County in 1995. During his distinguished career, Greg has successfully managed and completed countless fiscal and operational audits, compliance reviews, investigations, and special studies of organizations of varying size and complexity.
Greg is a Certified Public Accountant, a Certified Internal Auditor, and a Certified Fraud Examiner. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a major in Accounting from Cal Poly, Pomona.
Jody David Armour
Roy P. Crocker Professor of Law at the University of Southern California
Jody David Armour is the Roy P. Crocker Professor of Law at the University of Southern California. A widely published scholar and popular lecturer, he studies the intersection of race, law, morality