Los Angeles, CA – Los Angeles County lawmakers are positioning themselves to start firing Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) employees who don’t comply with its vaccine mandate.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted on Feb. 8 to take the responsibility of Covid vaccine mandate enforcement away from LASD Sheriff Alex Villanueva because the sheriff has refused to enforce it, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Sheriff Villanueva has required his employees to disclose their vaccination status and to be tested weekly if they are unvaccinated, but he refused to mandate that employees get the shots.
“No, I am not forcing anyone, 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,” the sheriff said back in October of 2021 when he was asked to clarify his stance on the mandate, according to Insider.
“I don’t want to be in a position to lose 5 to 10 percent of my workforce overnight on a vaccine mandate,” he added.
The rule change applies to all county departments and lets the county’s personnel director give enforcement power to department heads who have complied with the mandate.
County policy gives employees five opportunities to comply with the vaccine mandate before they are fired, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The night before the supervisors voted on the mandate enforcement shift, Sheriff Villanueva released a statement to explain what the proposed changes would mean.
The sheriff said the move by the board would position the county to fire 18,000 county employees who have refused to get vaccinated, including 4,000 members of the sheriff’s department, the Los Angeles Times reported.
He called the proposed move “ill advised” and a “death blow” to public safety in Los Angeles County.
“I just urge you to de-escalate and dial back the rhetoric, and let’s find some common ground — testing or vaccination, and we’re doing that right now,” Sheriff Villanueva wrote.
A county spokesperson told the board of supervisors that 83 percent of the county’s 100,000 employees were already fully vaccinated, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“I can see why he wears a big hat, because he pulls a lot of numbers right out of it, most of which can’t be substantiated,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl told reporters. “We’ve increased the people who work for him, we’ve increased the budget. And in this case, we have an absolute right to say these are our employees, not yours.”
The board voted 4-to-0 on Feb. 8 to form what the sheriff called a “suicide pact” in a statement he released shaming them after the vote.
“Board of Supervisors Vote to Terminate Approximately 4000 #LASD Personnel During a Time When Murders Have Increased Over 94% and A Hiring Freeze in the Department,” Sheriff Villanueva tweeted.
“This is nothing more than another politically motivated stunt by the Board, which has no bearing on public health, but will definitely harm public safety,” the sheriff said.
But Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn defended the decision, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“Unfortunately, the Sheriff’s Department is the only department in the county that’s refused to implement this policy,” Hahn said. “I think we were left with no other choice.”
She said it would allow the county to put the responsibility for enforcing the mandate into the hands of somebody who believes in the mandate, the Los Angeles Times reported.