Jim McDonnell began his law enforcement career in 1981 after graduating from the Los Angeles Police Academy. He served for 29 years at the Los Angeles Police Department where he demonstrated on a daily basis his guiding principles of integrity, and treating others with respect and dignity.
McDonnell has always been a reformer. While with the LAPD, he helped create the blueprint for LAPD’s community-based policing programs that led to building strong relationships and communication between law enforcement and the diverse communities within the City of Los Angeles. During his tenure as second-in-command under Chief of Police Bill Bratton, the City of Los Angeles experienced some of its deepest drops in crime in all of its history.
Following his career at the LAPD, McDonnell served as the Chief of the Long Beach Police Department for five years. He implemented a number of initiatives that resulted in safer communities, increased morale amongst department staff, and improved community relations in long-neglected neighborhoods.
In 2014, Jim McDonnell was elected Sheriff of Los Angeles County andwas the first Sheriff in 100 years to be elected from outside the Sheriff’s Department. As Sheriff, he worked with a broad coalition of community stakeholders to implement critical reform efforts within the Department and set it on the path to be the premier law enforcement agency in the nation.
During Sheriff McDonnell’s term, there was a reduction in serious use of force inside jails and correctional facilities. Sheriff McDonnell supported the creation of the first Civilian Oversight Board to build greater accountability and increased communication with our diverse communities. He also created the Human Trafficking Bureau to address the victimization of young women, girls, and boys. Crime was also reduced across the county by empowering the community to work more closely with deputies.
Sheriff McDonnell also worked with the Board of Supervisors on a plan to replace the Men’s Central Jail with an updated facility that will allow for better handling of those in custody with mental health and substance abuse challenges. And recognizing the need for greater accountability, Sheriff McDonnell fully deployed the Internal Affairs Bureau so that it could properly address problems within the department.
Sheriff McDonnell served as a member of the Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence—a blue ribbon group created by the County Board of Supervisors to investigate the validity and causes of allegations of excessive force within the LASD’s Custody Division. The Commission issued a detailed report, including 63 recommendations that have become a roadmap for change within the Department.
Throughout his professional career, Sheriff McDonnell has implemented prevention-oriented strategies and programs that proactively address the root causes of crime—including mental illness, homelessness and the challenges facing youth at risk. To accomplish this, he has taken regional leadership roles while serving as President of the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs’ Association, President of the California Peace Officers’ Association, a member of the California Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards & Training (POST), and a board member of the Peace Officers’ Association of Los Angeles County.
Sheriff McDonnell holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California. He is also a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Executive Institute and has completed executive education programs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
Jim joins the CopDoc Podcast on January 6, 2021.