The LA Podcast
< Guide to LA

County Supervisors County Supervisors

What the County Supervisors Do

Los Angeles County is governed by a five member Board of Supervisors. The County Supervisors write and pass laws for all of LA County. They oversee important departments like the Sheriff, Mental Health, Public Health and the Medical Examiner-Coroner. And they decide where a lot of our taxpayer dollars are spent. They currently manage a budget of around $36 Billion. For comparison, LA city’s budget for this fiscal year is $10.7 Billion.

The County Supervisors are unofficially known as the “five kings” because they have a lot of power with little oversight. And as one of our state Senators once said, “they are invisible to their subjects.”

The County Supervisors make laws that govern the county. They also preside over most county services. What’s a county service you ask? Here are a few important ones:

🎓 Office of Education, which supports LA County’s 80 school districts (including LAUSD). 

🚨 Sheriff’s Department, which is the law enforcement agency for the county. The Sheriff’s turf includes all unincorporated parts of the county and some contracts with cities like West Hollywood and Compton. This department also manages our county jail system. They also have law enforcement contracts with Metro and community colleges. The Sheriff is an elected position but the Supervisors have a lot of say in how the department is run.

⚖️ Public Defender’s Office, which provides criminal defense services to people who cannot afford their own lawyers. The head Public Defender is appointed by the Supervisors.

🧠 Department of Mental Health, which offers community mental health support including homeless outreach teams, psychiatric emergency response, school threat assessment and suicide prevention. 

🧼 Department of Public Health, which operates some medical centers, monitors disease spread and prevention, handles food safety practices and substance abuse recovery programs.

💵 Department of Public Social Services, which is responsible for administering public programs like food assistance, health benefits and general relief.

🍼 Department of Children and Family Services, which is tasked with the safety and well-being of children. Also known as “child protective services.” 

Homelessness is also a big focus for the County Board of Supervisors. Their work on the issue spans these different departments but you can see some of their current budget priorities in this surprisingly easy to read summary!

Let’s meet a few of out LA County Supervisors:

Mark Ridley-Thomas

2nd District