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During his weekly address to public Monday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva asked the Board of Supervisors to release $143.7 million in frozen funds to continue critical services amid the coronavirus pandemic.

He noted that his department has been working with the county’s CEO office to significantly reduce spending amid the pandemic. Overtime expenditures have been reduced and the sheriff said his department will continue budget mitigation plans.

But, he explained, his department needs those frozen funds to acquire cleaning and hygiene supplies for the jails, to get supplies to process rape kits and to keep rescue helicopters in the air.

“We need those funds to continue vital service,” Villanueva said.

Villanueva also discussed how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting his department and the community at large.

He said that 51 agency employees have tested positive and 543 staff who were at one point isolated or quaratnined are back at work.

The sheriff indicated that two people who work as custody assistants are currently on ventilators.

“We’re rooting for them,” Villanueva said.

In the county’s jails, 26 inmates have tested positive for coronavirus and seven have recovered, the sheriff said. A total of 1,724 inmates are quarantined as a result and 64 are isolated.

Villanueva said that because officials began easing overcrowding at the jails in February in response to the coronavirus, there is now more room for defensible space in the jails.

Most crime in L.A. County is still down amid the stay-at-home order, but there has been an uptick in domestic violence calls, Villanueva said.

Violent crime overall is down by 9.7% countywide, with homicides being down 21% and rape reporting down nearly 29%, the sheriff said. In addition, property crime is down nearly 12%.

There has been one arrest related to COVID-19 since March 29, a paddle boarder who ignored a lifeguard’s order to get out of the water in Malibu, and 30 citations have been issued to people who are not in compliance with the safer-at-home order.

Villanueva said that these are “encouraging statistics,” but also noted that domestic violence related calls for service are up by nearly 9%. At this time last year, there were 863 such calls for service, while this year the calls are up to 933.

The sheriff said that while these are high-stress times, “violence against someone you love is not the answer.”

He encouraged those facing violence in the home to call the county’s domestic violence hotline to get services they need amid the pandemic.