In the 33 years that she has served as the executive director of the Echo Park-based organization, El Centro del Pueblo, Spanish for “People’s Center,” Eagle Rock resident Sandra Figueroa Villa has inspired her nearly 90 employees with the kind of leadership that, as she put it to Patch during a May 2012 interview, protects people’s rights in such areas as education, health, employment and housing.
On Wednesday, Villa added another field to her management portfolio: A seat on the five-member commission that oversees the Los Angeles Police Department.
Mayor Eric Garcetti chose Villa as one of the four new appointees to the Police Commission, along with real estate developer Steve Soboroff, media executive Paula Madison and Kathleen Kim, a law professor who has been a longtime activist on human trafficking and immigration issues.
Villa, who was awarded the 2012 “Woman of the Year” title by Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors member Gloria Molina in L.A. County’s First District, has a track record of working with at-risk youth in danger of joining gangs as well as youth already in gangs or referred by courts for offenses surrounding gang-related crimes.
But neither she nor any of the other three appointees to the Police Commission are known for their experience with police work, notes the Los Angeles Times.
“Although such knowledge has not been a prerequisite for past appointees to the board, the arrival to the commission of these four all at once equates to a dramatic loss of institutional knowledge of how the LAPD operates, its strengths and weaknesses,” the Times said in an article Wednesday.
And yet, the appointments are noteworthy because they come at a time when the LAPD has undergone a decade of “sweeping reforms that were imposed on it by federal officials,” the Times article observed, adding: “The LAPD has become, once again, its own master, and the commission is fully on its own in the task of keeping the agency in check.”