State Watch

LA lawmakers move to strip sheriff of COVID-19 vaccine mandate enforcement

Los Angeles County sheriff
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The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday decided that Sheriff Alex Villanueva would no longer be responsible for enforcing COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

“Unfortunately, the Sheriff’s Department is the only department in the county that’s refused to implement this policy,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn, according to The Los Angeles Times. “I think we were left with no other choice.”

The decision came after Villanueva refused to fire unvaccinated deputies who did not comply with the mandate. As a result, the board requested a draft of the new enforcement policies be provided by next month. Those policies will allow the personnel director to place enforcement responsibilities in the hands of someone who complies with the mandate, the newspaper reported.

In a statement on Tuesday, the sheriff framed the decision as a push to fire 4,000 unvaccinated people from his department.

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,” his statement said.

A county spokesperson told the Times that as of Tuesday 83 percent of Los Angeles county’s approximately 100,000 employees were fully vaccinated.

But Villanueva has been an outspoken critic of vaccination mandates and has said since it was passed in October that he would not enforce the requirement.

“The issue has become so politicized,” Villanueva said at the time. “There are entire groups of employees that are willing to be fired and laid off rather than get vaccinated, so I don’t want to be in a position to lose 5 percent, 10 percent of my workforce overnight on a vaccine mandate.”

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