The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 on Tuesday to allow civilian administrators to fire up to 4,000 members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) who have declined to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The vote came over the objections of L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who has declined to enforce vaccine mandates among his officers, just as he has declined to enforce coronavirus mandates on local businesses throughout the pandemic.
Local ABC affiliate KABC-7 reported:
Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Holly Mitchell introduced the motion, saying countywide compliance with the employee vaccine mandate “remains a challenge four months after its issuance.” They noted that as of Feb. 1, 81.5% of the county’s 100,000 employees were fully vaccinated as required by the mandate. But in the sheriff’s department, less than 60% of employees were in compliance with the vaccine mandate. … The motion directs county attorneys to work with the CEO and personnel director to develop proposed amendments to county Civil Service rules, giving the personnel director “overriding authority to discipline the employees of any county department for noncompliance with the county’s policy or directives related to the policy.”
Villanueva issued a statement in protest against the board’s decision, which comes during a crime wave in the county:
Today the Board of Supervisors followed through on their threat and voted 4-0 (1 abstention) to form a suicide pact and start the process to fire 4,000 deputies for not being vaccinated. 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 Board, who ignored the comments made by thousands of their constituents today during their meeting, is now seeking to fire the very same personnel who were forced to work in person, exposing themselves to the COVID-19 virus when there was no vaccine, while the Supervisors and most of the workforce were telecommuting from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Supervisor Kuehl falsely asserted in her motion that LASD employees represented 74% of infected County employees, ignoring the simple fact most infections were during pre-vaccine availability. … It is important to remember Department personnel who chose not to vaccinate are required to submit to weekly COVID testing, and have committed no administrative offense. 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.
The proposal will come before the Board of Supervisors on March 15 for a final vote.
Also, on Tuesday, Los Angeles mayoral frontrunner Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) proposed hiring more personnel at the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), which is separate from the LASD, to deal with an ongoing surge in crime.
Public health authorities in the county announced this week that they would retain an indoor mask mandate, despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to lift the mandate for the rest of California by February 15, and similar reversals nationwide.
Update: The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) issued a statement in response to the Board vote:
Homicides in Los Angeles County have increased 94% over the last two years, but that didn’t stop the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors from terrminating 4,000 sheriff deputies last night. Will Democrats like Katie Porter and Mike Levin speak up to defend Californians and law enforcement? Or will they stay silent and do nothing as crime continues to rise across Southern California?