Jim McDonnell (sheriff)

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Jim McDonnell
McDonnell in 2014
32nd Sheriff of the County of Los Angeles
In office
December 1, 2014 – December 3, 2018
Preceded byJohn Scott (Interim)
Succeeded byAlex Villanueva
Personal details
Born1959 (age 59–60)
Spouse(s)Kathy McDonnell (wife)
RelationsKelly (daughter), Megan (daughter)
AwardsLos Angeles Police Department Medal of Valor ribbon.svg Los Angeles P.D. Medal of Valor
Los Angeles Police Distinguished Service Medal ribbon.svg L.A. Police Distinguished Service Medal
1987pv.JPG LAPD 1987 Papal Visit Ribbon
92riots.JPG LAPD 1992 Civil Disturbance Ribbon
1994quake.JPG LAPD 1994 Earthquake Ribbon
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Distinguished Service Award.png LASD Distinguished Service Medal
Military service
Allegiance County of Los Angeles
Branch/service L.A. County Sheriff's Department (2014–2018)
Long Beach P.D. (2010–2014)
 Los Angeles P.D. (1981–2010)
Years of service2014–2018 (L.A. County S.D.)
2010–2014 (Long Beach P.D.)
1981–2010 (Los Angeles P.D.)
Rank5 Gold Stars.svg Sheriff

James McDonnell (born 1959) is an American law enforcement official who served as the 32nd Sheriff of the County of Los Angeles in California. McDonnell was elected as L.A. County's 32nd sheriff on November 4, 2014, defeating former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka. He replaced interim sheriff John Scott on December 1, 2014, when he was sworn in. Previously he served as the Chief of Police in Long Beach, California and before that in the Los Angeles Police Department, reaching the rank of Assistant Chief.

Early life and education[edit]

McDonnell grew up in a working-class neighborhood in Brookline, Massachusetts.[1] He graduated from Saint Anselm College in Goffstown, New Hampshire, where he received a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.[2] He then received a Master's degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California.[2]


McDonnell in 2015


McDonnell began his law enforcement career as twenty-one-year-old graduate from the Los Angeles Police Academy in 1981. During his 28 years of work in the LAPD, he held every rank except Chief of Police and served as second in command to Chief William Bratton.[2] He was considered a frontrunner for the position but Charlie Beck was appointed instead of him.[3] While at the LAPD McDonnell was viewed as an ambassador who helped the department connect with Los Angeles' diverse communities and political leaders as Bratton's chief of staff and second-in-command.[3] As a candidate for Chief in 2002, McDonnell presented a plan for community-based policing that was eventually adopted by Bratton and served as the foundation to overhaul and reform the LAPD.[3] While working for the LAPD, he held a variety of assignments in patrol, detectives, vice, gang, organized crime, homicide and other divisions. In the 1990s as a commander, he gained attention for his efforts to revitalize the LAPD's senior lead officer program and to build the LAPD forerunner to the Compstat computer crime-mapping system along with helping implement the consent decree.[1][3]


In March 2010, McDonnell was appointed as the police chief of Long Beach, California, replacing former Chief Anthony Batts, who left to become the chief of the Oakland Police Department, over objections by some in the department who preferred a chief from the department.[4] As police chief, McDonnell dealt with a large increase in officer-involved shootings and a 20% decrease in sworn officers from 1,000 to 800.[5] McDonnell oversaw a 20% drop in violent crime and has been credited with dramatically improving community relations with the police, helping drastically reduce gang activity, and trying to improve racial diversity in the department.[5] After McDonnell's election on November 4, 2014, Deputy Chief Robert Luna was selected to replace him to become the 26th Police Chief of Long Beach.[6] Luna was considered a frontrunner for the position before McDonnell was appointed and became the department's first Latino police chief.[6]


McDonnell has said he would work with district attorney Jackie Lacey to send some prisoners with mental health problems to psychiatric institutions rather than jail.[1] McDonnell has stated that a new facility would be built to replace the dilapidated Men's Central Jail.[1] He has expressed support for a civilian oversight commission to supplement the new inspector general in monitoring the department but has stated that he is still evaluating whether the inspector general should have subpoena power and access to personnel records.[1] He was sworn in on December 1, 2014 and became the first person from outside of the sheriff's department to be elected to the office of Sheriff in over 100 years.[1] Jim McDonnell was also the first incumbant sheriff in over 100 years to lose the position of sheriff in over 100 years. Alex Villanueva succeeded him following the November 2018 general election in California.[7]


June 2014
Sheriff primary results, June 3, 2014 [8]
Party Candidate Votes %
Nonpartisan Jim McDonnell 340,682 49.35
Nonpartisan Paul Tanaka 104,192 15.09
Nonpartisan Bob Olmsted 67,855 9.83
Nonpartisan James Hellmold 52,953 9.83
Nonpartisan Patrick L. Gomez 45,276 6.56
Nonpartisan Todd S. Rogers 41,855 6.06
Nonpartisan Lou Vince 37,458 5.43
Total votes 690,271 100
Turnout   14.31
November 2014
Sheriff runoff results, November 4, 2014[9]
Party Candidate Votes %
Nonpartisan Jim McDonnell 920,655 74.83
Nonpartisan Paul Tanaka 309,641 25.17
Total votes 1,230,296 100
Turnout   27.07

Dates of rank[edit]

Insignia Rank Agency Date Notes
5 Gold Stars.svg
Sheriff Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department December 1, 2014 – December 3, 2018
4 Gold Stars.svg
Chief Long Beach Police Department March 13, 2010 – November 22, 2014
US-O8 insignia.svg
Deputy Chief  Los Angeles Police Department November 2009 – March 2010
US-O9 insignia.svg
1st Assistant Chief  Los Angeles Police Department November 12, 2002 – November 2009
US-O7 insignia.svg
Commander  Los Angeles Police Department April 2000 – November 12, 2002
US-O3 insignia.svg
Captain  Los Angeles Police Department
US-O2 insignia.svg
Lieutenant  Los Angeles Police Department
LAPD Detective-3.jpg
Detective III  Los Angeles Police Department
LAPD Detective-2.jpg
Detective II  Los Angeles Police Department
LAPD Detective-1.jpg
Detective I  Los Angeles Police Department
LAPD Police Officer-3.jpg
Police Officer III  Los Angeles Police Department
Badge of a Los Angeles Police Department officer.png
Police Officer II  Los Angeles Police Department No rank insignia, badge shown.
Badge of a Los Angeles Police Department officer.png
Police Officer I  Los Angeles Police Department 1981 No rank insignia, badge shown.

Personal life[edit]

McDonnell is married to Kathy McDonnell.[2] They have two daughters, Kelly and Megan.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "L.A. County Sheriff-elect Jim McDonnell has his work cut out for him". Los Angeles Times. November 6, 2014. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Jim McDonnell Biography". Jim McDonnell for Sheriff. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d "LAPD's Jim McDonnell named next chief of Long Beach Police Department [Updated]". Los Angeles Times. February 3, 2010. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  4. ^ "Sheriff-elect Jim McDonnell set to be sworn in Monday". Los Angeles Times. November 29, 2014. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Jim McDonnell's career as police chief could show how he'd lead as sheriff". Los Angeles Times. October 26, 2014. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  6. ^ a b "Long Beach selects its first Latino police chief: Robert Luna". Los Angeles Times. November 11, 2014. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  7. ^ Board, The Times Editorial. "Sheriff Villanueva's truth and reconciliation commission is a lie". latimes.com. Retrieved 2019-03-11.
  8. ^ "Los Angeles County Election Results, June 2014: Sheriff". County of Los Angeles Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  9. ^ "Los Angeles County Election Results: Sheriff". County of Los Angeles Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk. Retrieved November 30, 2014.

External links[edit]

Police appointments
Preceded by
Anthony Batts
Chief of Long Beach Police Department
Succeeded by
Robert Luna
Preceded by
John Scott
Los Angeles County Sheriff
Succeeded by
Alex Villanueva