The Los Angeles County sheriff slammed the county’s “absolutely absurd” vaccine mandate on Oct. 29 for causing a mass exodus of deputies and an imminent public safety threat.
A COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees has caused employees of the department to leave, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a letter to the Board of Supervisors. Under the mandate, employees had to be fully vaccinated by Oct 1.
“As a result, homicide rates will continue to rise, response times will increase, solve rates will diminish, arrests will decline, patrol services will significantly decline, and patrol states will close,” Villanueva said in the statement.
Villanueva, who oversees the largest sheriff’s department in the country, with about 18,000 employees, announced earlier this month that he wouldn’t enforce the county’s vaccine mandate in his agency.
The department may soon not be able to maintain public safety at current levels, he said in the Oct. 28 letter, adding that he could potentially lose 44 percent of his workforce in one day if he followed the vaccine mandate.
Departures have included unscheduled retirements, worker compensation claims, employees quitting, and fewer qualified applicants.
The mandate would cause patrol service to decline, closure and realignment of patrol stations, and elimination of aero bureaus, special enforcement bureaus, and headquarters detectives, he said.
Los Angeles County hasn’t restored funding to the department following the “defund law enforcement movement,” Villaneuva said. As of this week, homicides rates were up 44 percent and aggravated assaults were up 23 percent.
The sheriff is vaccinated and believes it works, but says the choice to get vaccinated is a personal one.
He said deputies who served the community before the vaccine should not be fired because “they made a decision about their own body.”
President Joe Biden issued the federal vaccine mandate by executive order in August. The mandate allows only for religious and medical exemptions.
The Biden Administration has since been under fire from several groups seeking an exemption or asking for flexibility from the mandate.
Villanueva said his employees are willing to be terminated rather than get vaccinated.
A Washington, D.C., district court judge issued a temporary injunction on Oct. 28 that bars civilian and military plaintiffs from being fired after they filed a lawsuit against the White House’s vaccine mandate.
A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors wasn’t available for comment by press time.