A New “Just A Deputy” Letter Surfaces Addressing Luna’s Response to Clinkunbroomer Murder as Rank and File Morale Continues to Tank at LASD

The senseless murder carried out by a lone gunman who ambushed deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer just outside the Palmdale Station on September 16th, sent shockwaves throughout LA County and ultimately across the country resulting in an overwhelming outpouring of much needed emotional support for members of the LASD after the immeasurable loss.

Unfortunately, even in the wake of Clinkunbroomer’s assassination, there is a consistent contradictory tone and lack of empathy being expressed by executives at LASD towards the rank and file, especially Lancaster and Palmdale station deputies.

Not only did Palmdale deputies suffer through the tragedy of having one of their own gunned down just outside their station, with deputies visibly distraught despite everything they did to save their friend and partner, now they are having to endure the absence of reinforcement and compassion from department leaders, which sends a horrible message that is reverberating throughout the LASD.

Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer’s somber procession that ended in Covina, where his flag-draped casket was escorted to the mortuary on September 20th.

Sheriff Robert Luna, who took office in December after winning against incumbent Alex Villanueva in the November ’22 election, has appeared to be uncomfortable in his new position as the head of the largest Sheriff’s department in the country. The newly elected Sheriff entered an unknown environment and depending on current staff members, some with an undying loyalty to his predecessor, to navigate the turbulent waters of an anti-law enforcement environment and a contentious L.A. political scene.

Shortly after winning the election, Luna announced his transition team, which consisted of devotees of former Sheriff Jim McDonnell, a colleague at the Long Beach Police Department, which quickly earned him the moniker “The Shadow Sheriff”.

As time went on, it was obvious that Luna was implementing policy, procedure and attitude consistent under McDonnell, including his disdain for the rank and file which pre-dated the George-Floyd-Defund-the-Police era.

Luna’s willingness to collude with the political powers-that-be was blatant with his refusal to support promotions for LASD personnel who had department related tattoos of any kind – including those who removed tattoos previously (as in years ago). His discrimination of tattooed department members did not include the executive level, of whom are hand-holding Luna through the day-to-day operations of overseeing a total of 18,000 employees, 9,000 of which are sworn officers.

Luna’s apathetic attitude at his first Citizen’s Oversight Commission hearing regarding commentary from commissioner Patti Giggans, who is currently under active criminal investigation by the Californian Department of Justice (which made national news and mentioned at Senate hearings), was telling. As was his defense and tolerance of executives with tattoos and his admonishment of the rank and file personnel who have them, all of which is on record.

Last night, a second “Just A Deputy” letter circulated throughout the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and on social media expressing sadness, anger and frustration at the Department’s actions in the wake of Clinkunbroomer’s murder.

The poignant letter addressed the high-profile issues that have plagued the Palmdale and Lancaster stations over the last few months, as well as the department’s unapologetic willingness to make examples of patrol deputies to please the political opposition whose sole motivation is to abolish and/or have complete control over law enforcement.

While the focus of the “Just A Deputy” letter attempted to stay on point with the affect of Clinkunbroomer’s brutal killing on an already fragile community, there was still a very powerful political tone, references and comparisons in the letter, to former Sheriff Alex Villanueva who has been publicly campaigning since he lost the election (and recently announced his candidacy for Board of Supervisors), that causes you to pause and consider the true motivation behind the message.

The letter reads as follows:

A Second Open Letter to the Citizens of the Antelope Valley

“Hello again,

First and foremost, I have to express my heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to everyone in the Antelope Valley that took the time to express sympathy for the loss of our partner, Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer. The condolences, the flowers, the cards, and all the other support given to us are greatly appreciated. We’ve seen the best of our Antelope Valley community shine bright for us in one of our darkest moments. We Deputies are supposed to be the ones who help others when the worst happens. Because of that, we often create emotional walls and barriers. We tend to bury our emotions at work, so we can handle bearing witness to trauma and even death on a daily basis. When one of us becomes the victim, those walls get crushed, and a tidal wave of hurt, loss, anger, and adrenaline lays us bare to all that buried anguish.

I said it before, we Deputies see you.
Everyone who waves to us.
Everyone who thanks us for our service.
Everyone who we have had the ability to help.
Everyone who sends us cards.
Everyone who prays for us when one of us gets hurt or killed.
You are the reason we are willing to stay.
You are our neighbors and our friends.
Thank you.

But there are others. Some of those “vocal few” I spoke of in my first letter. Some of those vocal few saw fit that night Ryan was murdered, to tell some of us to our faces that they were glad one of us was gunned down. Anyone who still has the gall to say we target or harass people, or use unnecessary force, consider this; no Deputy lost their composure at ANY of those contemptible people in these last few days. Because those people, however hateful they were, did not commit a crime when they taunted us in our sorrow. Despite them, we continued to serve the Antelope Valley to the best of our ability, and in the worst of circumstances.

The truth is, those vocal few have always been free to speak in such ways. Sadly some people believe the media narrative that we are to be viewed as violent or prejudiced. Media personalities, who get paid very well, and achieve celebrity status, by being Professional Victims, constantly accuse us on their platforms of being violent. All the while knowing that as a rule, we do not use force on someone unless we know we are threatened with physical violence, or when someone is resisting a lawful arrest once we believe a crime has been committed. But their narrative has emboldened disrespect to law enforcement as a whole at the very least, and violence at the worst.

Worse still, those vocal few have recently been bolstered, and even encouraged by Sheriff Luna and Chief Kneer when they saw fit to hold press conferences that publicly destroyed the reputations of two AV Deputies this summer just to score political cred with those vocal few. They did so without completing any Department level investigations, let alone any court proceedings to determine guilt or innocence. They also made those press conferences wearing suits, rather than our uniform, a visual cue to show the vocal few their willingness to publicly distance themselves from those who proudly wear the uniform everyday. In the days that followed, Luna and his command staff came to the Antelope Valley. Luna was pointedly asked by Lancaster Deputies in regard the Winco incident, as to why he didn’t consult station Detectives investigating the incident, considering the severity of Luna’s actions. His response was a condescending, “We don’t talk to station Detectives.”

Also, Luna’s comments to Deputies about the use of force in Palmdale involving an intoxicated individual who held a baby as a shield to prevent arrest, were both demoralizing and contradictory. In the meeting with Lancaster Deputies he said he stood by his decision to fire the Deputy involved. Yet that same day, when asked by Palmdale Deputies if he felt the firing was justified he said, “I’m not sure.” He also said in regard to this incident, where a baby was used as a shield, “Just walk away. He didn’t have to make that arrest.”
Message received. And not just by us. In the last two months at least one domestic violence suspect in the AV, that I know of, was allowed to walk away from Deputies once that suspect purposefully grabbed their own child as a human shield to prevent their arrest; thanks to the media circus perpetuated by Luna’s inflammatory public remarks.

Luna’s remarks and presentation of footage also helped fuel hundreds of death threat phone calls to Deputies, made to the offices and 9-1-1 phone lines for Lancaster and Palmdale Stations. For all the massive stress placed on the small amount of personnel each Station has, Luna and his command staffs’ answers to all of our questions about how to perform our duties, when those incidents were handled in-line with current policies, were dismissive at best. We were told department force policies will eventually be changed in the future, to reflect the punishments he doled out here and now. The only guidance we were given by him was, “Just do your jobs.”

Deputies have worried about those death threats. Deputies have also worried if we get into a fight with a criminal that offends the sensibilities of the Sheriff or his command staff, that we could be fired, or criminally charged ourselves. As a result, several AV Deputies have quit the Department in the last two months. Some for lesser paying jobs at other law enforcement agencies they felt would at least value them. More still are planning to leave.

Now the ultimate nightmare for every cop has happened. Ryan, with the best parts of his life ahead of him, was murdered. Even in the horror and chaos of the moment, his friends, his partners, followed their training. His partners valiantly tried to save him, we searched for his killer, and we still responded to every other emergency in the Antelope Valley at the same time. Most would not go home until his cowardly assassin was caught.

The stress of losing a Deputy is something that can’t easily be put into words. We work long hours, weekends, holidays. We miss family events, birthdays, and anniversaries. Being around others who share that burden, forms lasting bonds. We become another family. We lost a coworker, a brother, a friend, and more. A loss like that can be overwhelming. Everyone who’s ever worn the badge should know that. So when Deputies from all over Los Angeles County responded in minutes or within a couple hours, it was expected. Even retired Sheriff Alex Villanueva came to AV Hospital from LA in less than 2 hours. Luna took over 5 hours to show himself. Yet another slap in the face to the professionals here under his command.

Still, the disrespect to AV Deputies continues. In the past, when a Deputy has died in the line of duty, that Deputy’s Station gets shutdown for a day or two so that Deputy’s partners can process the loss, together as a family. When that happens, Deputies from other Stations throughout the County are ordered in to cover, so the Station Deputies and civilian personnel can mourn as one. When Sgt. Steve Owen was murdered, Lancaster and Palmdale Stations were both granted that immediately after his murder, and for the day of his funeral. As of my writing this letter, no such closure has been granted by Luna for Palmdale. Some Deputies from other Stations have come to work Palmdale on a voluntary basis, so at least a few Palmdale Deputies each shift can get relieved to grieve.

We hurt. The feeling that we are not supported by the upper echelon of our own department is like salt in the wounds. But amazing grace has come in spite of the negative. Given how big the Antelope Valley is, it feels like a small town when things get bad. Lancaster and Palmdale Deputies are closer than ever because of the adversity we have faced together. All we have had is each other. Now we have been reminded again through tragedy that we also all of you who have cried and prayed with us. We wouldn’t do a job this hard for any other community.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Share this message if you want to support the Deputies in the Antelope Valley.
Thank you Antelope Valley, for all of your prayers and support.
Thank you and God bless you all.

Just a Deputy”

Department sources revealed to The Current Report that Deputy Clinkunbroomer’s funeral is currently scheduled for October 5th.

Featured photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG

**This article was discussed the new You Tube series “Undercover LA” on The Police Applicant Podcast Channel

Cece Woods

The Current Report Editor in Chief Cece Woods started The Local Malibu, an activism based platform in 2014. The publication was instrumental in the success of pro-preservation ballot measures and seating five top vote-getters in the Malibu City Council elections.

During the summer of 2018, Woods exposed the two-year law enforcement cover-up in the Malibu Creek State Park Shootings, and a few short months later provided the most comprehensive local news coverage during the Woolsey Fire attracting over one million hits across her social media platforms.

Since 2020, Woods was the only journalist reporting on the on-going public corruption involving former L.A. Metro CEO Phil Washington. Woods worked with Political Corruption expert Adam Loew, DC Watchdog organizations and leaders in the Capitol exposing Washington which ultimately led to the withdrawal of his nomination to head the FAA.

Woods also founded Malibu based 90265 Magazine and Cali Mag devoted to the authentic southern California lifestyle.

1 Comment

  1. For three decades I worked for the LASD and we rarely heard of a deputy committing suicide. Now just this year, there have been about 10. In each case, the underlying cause is poor morale caused by their leaders who see them as simple employees, devoid of a devoted calling that guided them to a career of public service. Deputies aren’t in this job because it is easy, they are in this line of work because it is hard and they need support. And now Luna has replaced the Palmdale station unit commander with someone whose entire supervisory career seemed focused on the petty targeting of personnel for small violations. He is a complete morale killer. Luna seems to be attracted to like minded executives who will be willing to snuff out careers just to appear as if they are “doing something”… The public suffers. Voting has consequences and you’re about to get your results.

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