Los Angeles, CA. – Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva says that vaccine mandates are causing a “mass exodus” in his department and threatens public safety at a time when violent crime is on the rise.”
“I have repeatedly stated the dangers to public safety when 20%-30% of my workforce is no longer available to provide service, and those dangers are quickly becoming a reality,” Villanueva said in a prepared statement that he posted on social media last week. “We are experiencing an increase in unscheduled retirements, worker compensation claims, employees quitting, and a reduction in qualified applicants.”
Villanueva said that homicide rates in the county will continue to rise and the response times will increase while patrol services decline.
“With the pandemic waning, there is no justification for the Board mandate,” Villanueva said. “It is like putting up the storm windows after the storm has passed.”
Under an executive order ratified by the Board of Supervisors in August, all Los Angeles County employees were required to register their vaccination status by Oct. 1 on an online portal, though religious and medical exceptions are allowed.
As of Friday, 79% of sheriff’s department workers, had registered their status, Michael Wilson, a county spokesman, said in an emailed statement to The Los Angeles Times.
“The county expects all department heads to encourage their employees to register as an important public health measure to protect workers and the public we serve,” Wilson said. “The vaccination policy is intended to save lives, not to punish employees based on their vaccination status.”
Of the sheriff’s 9,656 sworn personnel, 3,942 are fully vaccinated, according to county records. There are 188 workers who are semi-vaccinated, while 1,698 are not vaccinated and nearly 1,369 are seeking exemptions.
Of the department’s 6,428 civilian employees, 4,238 are fully vaccinated, according to county data. About 100 are semi-vaccinated and 629 are not vaccinated. Another 474 workers are seeking exemptions.
Employees who have not complied with the vaccine mandate have been given 45 days to comply. If the employees have not complied after the 45 day notice, they will be given a five day suspension and will be given another 30 days to comply.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Police Department has 26% of their employees that have not been vaccinated.
In his statement, Villanueva said that his department personnel already wear masks and submit to regular COVID-19 testing.
“Personally, I am vaccinated and believe the vaccine works,” he said, “but the choice to receive the vaccine is a personal one, and an individual who served the community tirelessly before there was a vaccine should not now be fired because they made a decision about their body.”