The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors recently drafted a proposal that would strip vaccine mandate enforcement responsibilities away from L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
The move comes after Villanueva said he would not comply with the mandates that ordered the firing of deputies who choose not to be vaccinated.
The new ruling would transfer enforcement authority of civil service rules to the county’s human resources director instead of the sheriff.
“Unfortunately, the Sheriff’s Department is the only department in the county that’s refused to implement this policy. I think we were left with no other choice,” Supervisor Janice Hahn told the Los Angeles Times.
The proposal was approved by Hahn and three other supervisors. Supervisor Kathryn Barger abstained. A draft of the new rules will be available next month.
At a virtual board meeting, Villanueva called the move “ill-advised” and declared it would be a “death-knell for public safety” in the county.
Villanueva has been an active defender of free choice when it comes to vaccine mandates. On social media the night before the ruling, he said enforcing vaccine mandates would be the equivalent of firing 18,000 county employees due to their vaccination status.
The L.A. County Sheriff’s Office website also released a statement saying the ruling will lead to the termination of approximately 4,000 LASD personnel during a time when murders have risen 94%.
“Showing deliberate indifference to the obvious impact on public safety, the Board hid behind an alleged threat to public safety they couldn’t back up with data. Tellingly, the Board’s own county counsel (Rodrigo Castro-Silva) couldn’t offer even a basic legal opinion on the legality of the Board’s motion, or the obvious legal challenges they will face,” the statement continued.
The sheriff currently requires unvaccinated employees to get tested weekly and is urging county officials to make a similar compromise in their hard-line stance.
“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,” Villanueva said.
The rule would effectively supersede Villanueva and give control over vaccine mandate enforcement to the county heads who are complying. According to the mandate, county employees are given five opportunities to comply before they can be terminated.
A county spokesperson told the Times that 15 full-time employees have been fired due to non-compliance, along with 133 temporary or seasonal employees. Currently, 83% of the county’s 100,000 employees are vaccinated.