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Video: Sheriff says he’ll defy LA County COVID vaccine mandate to avoid losing up to 10% of staff

Patrol cars of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department. (James/Flickr)
October 08, 2021

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said on Thursday he would not force his staff to take the COVID-19 vaccine despite the vaccine requirement recently passed by local lawmakers, citing already “bare bones” staffing that would be made worse by resignations caused by the mandate.

“I’m not forcing anyone,” Villanueva said when asked if he would enforce the vaccine mandate. “The issue has become so politicized. There are entire groups of employees that are willing to be fired and laid off rather than get vaccinated.”

“I don’t want to be in a position to lose 5, 10 percent of my workforce overnight on a vaccine mandate, while at the same time we’re barebones with the defunding effort,” Villanueva continued “So, this is like the worst of two worlds right here. So, we have to pick and choose.”

In August, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda Solis issued an executive order requiring all county employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 1.

The Los Angeles City Council also passed a vaccine mandate this week requiring residents to show proof of either vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to enter bars, restaurants, nail salons, gyms, and sporting events, as well as other venues.

The mandate passed the council with a vote of 11-2 and will go into effect on Nov. 4.

Villanueva has been a vocal opponent of COVID-19 mandates. In July, the sheriff said that he would not enforce the LA County mask mandate.

“Forcing the vaccinated and those who already contracted COVID-19 to wear masks indoors is not backed by science and contradicts the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines,” Villanueva wrote in a statement.

“The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH) has authority to enforce the order, but the underfunded/defunded Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will not expend our limited resources and instead ask for voluntary compliance,” he continued. “We encourage the DPH to work collaboratively with the Board of Supervisors and law enforcement to establish mandates that are both achievable and supported by science.”

In December, Villanueva reportedly said he would not require his deputies to enforce California’s lockdown order against businesses.

“I want to stay away from businesses that are trying to comply, they bent over backwards to modify their operations to conform to these orders and then they have the rug yanked out from under them, that’s a disservice, I don’t want to make them more miserable,” the sheriff told Fox LA’s Bill Melugin.

The order came after Gov. Newsom apologized for dining indoors at a Napa Valley restaurant with people from other households without wearing any masks.