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LAX Police Chief Urges Outside Investigation Into LA County Sheriff’s Department Following Revelations of Coverup Involving Deputy Kneeling on Head of Handcuffed Inmate

LOS ANGELES, CA – In a tweet yesterday in reaction to reporting revealing that the LA County Sheriff's Department covered up an incident where a deputy knelt on the head of a handcuffed inmate for three minutes, LAX Police Chief Cecil Rhambo blasted Sheriff Alex Villanueva for his continued obstruction and culture of cover-ups, calling for the FBI to again investigate the Sheriff’s Department.

Chief Rhambo’s statement can be found below:

“This horrific incident deeply disturbing. Whether or not Alex was notified about this before October, his years-long resistance to working with the Inspector General's office as well as the COC creates a department-wide culture to cover up, not report, and ignore requests for cooperation. At a minimum, an outside entity needs to investigate the incident to see if there was an active intent to conceal this and if so who ordered it. The FBI must expand its probe into the LA County Sheriff's Department from custody to the courts.”


Rhambo's campaign recently released a new online ad titled "Stop This Injustice," which draws a contrast between Rhambo and Sheriff Villanueva, highlighting the incumbent's refusal to stop deputy gangs, secret police and corruption, along with his war against the county's vaccine mandate, the Inspector General as well as the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

To view "Stop This Injustice," please click here.


Cecil Rhambo is a longtime public servant and public safety officer who currently serves as the Chief of Airport Police at LAX. Rhambo was raised in Compton and South Los Angeles after being adopted from Korea as an infant, graduating from Washington High School. Following college, Rhambo started his 33-year career in law enforcement, where he quickly moved up the ranks. 

As a Sergeant, Rhambo was assigned to the Internal Affairs Bureau where he assisted in the formation of the Shooting and Force Response Team in the wake of the Rodney King beating, the first time the Sheriff’s Department used Internal Affairs bureau began extensively reviewing reports of excessive force, including creating a database where the misconduct records of officers would be tracked as an “early warning” system.


As a Lieutenant in Internal Affairs Bureau, Rhambo began leading the Shooting and Force Response Teams and was later directed to head the Asian Crime Task Force, where he commanded a group of investigators and multilingual deputies to investigate crimes in LA County committed against Asians or by Asians, focusing on community outreach.


In 2000, after the city of Compton voted to disband its police department, Cecil was assigned to be the Captain of Compton’s Sheriff patrol contract, returning to the community he was from.  During his three years in this role, Rhambo heavily focused on community policing in the worst-hit areas of the city, which resulted in a dramatic reduction in crime, gang activity, and traffic fatalities along with establishing their first youth boxing and recreation center and paving the way for the first Starbucks.


After leaving the City of Compton, Rhambo was asked to re-start the Sheriff’s Community Oriented Policing Bureau, which focused on suppressing violent crime, combatting homelessness, parking enforcement, quality of life programs, youth programs, the mental health response teams that partnered a deputy with psych clinicians county-wide, and the Crisis or Hostage Negotiations Team which responds to high-level crisis events like SWAT responses or suicidal barricades. 


While commanding the COPS Bureau, Rhambo designed the basic model that’s used to address homeless people to this day by the Sheriff’s Department, relying on a “soft approach” of deputies dressed in soft uniforms partnering with outreach workers and various governmental departments to make contact with the chronically homeless, offer them bridge and supportive housing and connect them with services, including dental offices, showers, clothing, food, and partnering with the Public Defender’s Office to expunge minor offenses. 


Later, when the Sheriff’s Department came under fire from the ACLU and the FBI for prisoner abuse, Rhambo took on his boss, then-Sheriff Lee Baca, and other people in leadership. Rhambo urged Baca to fully comply with the FBI, but was ignored. Rhambo eventually testified against the LASD’s corruption, resulting in the imprisonment of Baca and 11 deputies.


As Chief of Airport Police, Rhambo leads the nation’s largest dedicated airport public safety force. Rhambo also served as City Manager of the City of Compton from 2017 through July 2019 and Assistant City Manager of the City of Carson from 2014 to 2017.  

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