Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva doubled down Tuesday on his refusal to enforce vaccine mandates, warning the mandate poses a public safety threat if officers leave the department over the mandate.
Villanueva criticized the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for the vaccine mandate, claiming they didn’t analyze the possible negative effects of a policy like the mandate. The mandate orders all county workers be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1. Villanueva originally announced days after the mandate took effect he would not be enforcing it out of fear he’d lose up to 10% of his workforce.
Villanueva said Tuesday slightly more than half of his employees are fully vaccinated. But when broken down, just 42.8% of officers are vaccinated while 67.2% of professional civilian staff are, Fox 11 reported.
The sheriff estimated 4,185 employees face losing their job over the county mandate, with approximately 3,200 of those being officers. Villanueva said that number was roughly the same as the agency’s patrol division. (RELATED: Judge Grants Big Legal Victory For Police Unions Against Chicago’s Vaccine Mandate)
“Imagine what would happen if every one of these (officers) were terminated. What would the department look like?” he asked.
He also pointed to the recent jump in early retirements as reason not to enforce the vaccine mandate.
“People are not happy with the vaccine mandate,” Villanueva said. “The fact that we’re seeing the uptick, we’re attributing that to the vaccine mandate.”
Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn criticized Villanueva’s decision, calling for “leadership, for once.”
“Let’s be clear about what is actually at stake with Sheriff Villanueva refusing to enforce the @CountyofLA vaccine mandate,” Hahn tweeted Tuesday. “The number one killer of law enforcement officers nationwide this past year has been COVID. Instead of implementing LA County’s vaccine mandate (like every other department has done), he is putting both his deputies and the public they come face-to-face with every day at unnecessary risk.”
Let’s be clear about what is actually at stake with Sheriff Villanueva refusing to enforce the @CountyofLA vaccine mandate.
The number one killer of law enforcement officers nationwide this past year has been COVID.
— Janice Hahn (@SupJaniceHahn) November 2, 2021