Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva recently pushed back against county officials who look to fire around 4,000 unvaccinated sheriff’s deputies over lack of compliance with COVID-19 vaccination mandates — a move that Villanueva calls “immoral” and politically motivated by “defund the police” activists.
“This is nothing but a power grab by the board. And it’s shameful, and it’s going to be harmful to public safety,” Villanueva told Fox News in a recent interview.
The L.A. County Board of Supervisors recently voted unanimously to strip Villanueva of his ability to enforce vaccination mandates, instead giving that role to the county’s personnel director.
“The Board voted 4-0-1, with Supervisor Barger abstaining, to direct a series of actions that would authorize the director of personnel, rather than any individual department head, to take action to terminate employees who are not vaccinated and not granted a religious or medical exemption,” a spokesperson for the Board of Supervisors stated.
The change, scheduled to take place on March 15, may result in thousands of terminations over failing to comply with mandates.
The sheriff, who has refused to enforce the county’s vaccination mandate, noted that firing so many deputies would lead to significant public safety issues as crime continues to rise in the county.
“The board couldn’t care less about the opinion of the residents,” Villanueva said. “They’re that power hungry in there, so walled off from normal life. While they were in the comfort and security of their homes during the pandemic, when there was no vaccine, our deputies were on the front lines out there answering calls for service … And now this board of supervisors wants to turn around and fire those very same people who sacrificed everything to keep public safety. It’s just, it’s really an immoral position these people have adopted, and just shame on every single one of them.”
Data from the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) revealed that the county had a 94% increase in homicides and a 64% increase in grand theft over the last two years.
The LAPD and LASD have also issued warnings to residents after a homeless man followed two women home and assaulted them in broad daylight in the same area where UCLA graduate student Brianna Kupfer was stabbed to death last month.
Villanueva believes the decision to fire deputies over vaccination status is politically motivated and ties into the county’s support of the “defund the police” narrative as it continues to block recruitment efforts and reallocate law enforcement budget dollars to other social programs.
“They’re the only government entity in the entire nation that has doubled down on defunding law enforcement,” he said. “They have a hiring freeze on my department as I’m facing a huge deficit of personnel.”
Villanueva said the department is currently understaffed and unequipped to handle the current crimewave.
“We’re the most understaffed law enforcement agency in the entire nation, and on top of that, they want to erode our presence even further. And that is just shocking,” he said. “And we’re in the middle of a crimewave. And our patrol seasons are down to 72% of staffing levels, and they want to go below that. That is insane. There’s no other way to describe it, but reprehensible. And these supervisors, they need to just quit right now.”