In a statement released via his official Twitter account on Friday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said that he would not be enforcing the county’s vaccine mandate within his agency, doubling down on his previous commitments to not enforce the countywide indoor mask policy.
In a Facebook Live news conference Thursday, Villanueva said the department could not suffer a 5% to 10% drop in manpower due to those employees declining to receive the vaccine. The sheriff also said that for those of the 18,000 LASD employees spread throughout the county who do not wish to receive the shot, nor submit to periodical testing, they will not be forced to.
“The department will continue requiring all our employees to register with the Fulgent system, but will only seek voluntary compliance and testing for the unvaccinated,” Villanueva said.
The county’s top cop said that in addition to the Board of Supervisors funneling money away from LASD’s budget, L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón has stood by a number of reform initiatives he passed upon entering his office last December. The “special directives” implemented by Gascón challenged a number of longstanding practices within the state’s judicial system by mandating the abolishment of the death penalty, phasing out the traditional cash bail system for low-level offenders, reducing the severity of sentences for a number of accused criminals, as well as a handful of others.
While supporters of Gascón have regularly said that the district attorney’s special directives are designed to challenge systemic racism and biases, others, such as Villanueva, have said they have put the community in harm’s way.
“In Los Angeles County, we have a Board of Supervisors who repeatedly call to empty the jails and release felons back onto the streets; a district attorney who refuses to prosecute many misdemeanors and has effectively decriminalized a myriad of crimes through his special directives; a 54% increase in homicides; and all this occurred as LASD was defunded and stripped of 1,400 positions.”
The Centers for Disease Control have continually emphasized throughout the pandemic that masks and social distancing — and eventually widespread vaccine inoculation — was the greatest deterrent to the COVID-19 pandemic. L.A. County Public Health Department have agreed with those statements, adding that unvaccinated people’s chances of catching the disease, becoming hospitalized, and possibly even dying as a result of the information, are far relatively far higher than those who have gotten the vaccine.
Villanueva said the choice is simple for deputies when it comes to making a decision between enforcing the mask policy or responding to a violent felony.
“When a decision must be made between responding to a violent felony in progress or serving as the ’vaccine mandate police,’ the choice is simple,” Villanueva said in his statement.
Villanueva has said for a number of months that neither he, nor his deputies, would be enforcing the policies, calling them a “draconian rule” in a July 23 tweet.