Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has refused to enforce a local vaccine mandate, saying he would risk losing up to 10 per cent of his workforce if he did.
After his department’s budget was cut by $145.5 million in June 2020, partly as a result of the ‘defund the police’ movement, Villanueva says he already faces losing hundreds of officers.
Enforcing COVID vaccine mandates would further cripple the force at a time when homicides have surged 31 per cent in the first six months of 2021 compared to last year.
“This is like the worst of two worlds right here, so we have to pick and choose,” said Villanueva, adding that he would lose 5-10 per cent of his staff “overnight” if he enacted the Los Angeles City Council’s mandate, which was passed on Wednesday.
“I’m not forcing anyone,” said Villanueva. “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 mandate, which is one of the strictest in the nation, goes into effect in November 4 and forces anyone wishing to enter bars, restaurants, gyms and other venues to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test.
It also makes the jab compulsory for city employees, a massive problem given that 24% of the Los Angeles Police Department’s 12,000 employees last month sought religious or medical exemptions to the vaccine mandate.
Villanueva’s refusal to enforce the mandate follows his insistence that mask mandates are not “backed by science” and that he wouldn’t be enforcing that either.