Written by William Hekman
The Los Angeles Board of Supervisors has passed a proposal that would give them the authority to discipline any county employees who do not comply with their vaccine mandate, which includes those who work at the LA Sheriff Department. Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Holly Mitchell introduced the motion.
Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villaneuva has been heavily critical of the vaccine mandate and other lockdown measures. Villaneuva called the Board of Supervisors proposal a “death blow to public safety” which could lead to the firing of officers in a time when law enforcement is needed, “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” said Villaneuva. The proposal could lead to the firing of around 4,000 employees. The proposal would change civil service rules that would allow the County Personnel Director to fire those who do not comply with the county COVID vaccine mandate. The proposal passed 4-0 with Kathryn Barger, the lone Republican on the board, abstaining. Villaneuva spoke to the Board over phone Tuesday about the proposal, “Your motion is going to seek to basically cause us to actually lose 4,000 employees, for a grand total of 0.4% improvement in positivity rate”. Villaneuva continued saying, “(That) is not exactly benefit to public safety. We’re coming off two years of a historically high 94% increase in homicide rate, 64% increase in grand theft auto. And this is just not sustainable. The current situation is not sustainable. The hiring freeze is not sustainable.”
Also critical of the proposal is the Los Angeles County Professional Peace Officers Association. Attorney James Cunningham who is representing the organization sent a letter to the Board saying, “Any attempt to take over the sheriff’s ability to oversee the disciplinary process for his employees, it is submitted, would certainly not survive legal scrutiny by the courts who would likely find the BOS exceeded their authority under well-established legal principals”. However, Supervisor Kuehl said that the proposal is needed to save lives, “To protect county lives … we have to enforce this mandate”.
According to Villaneuva, the sheriff department has 9,881 members fully vaccinated. Over the last 30 days, 342 have tested positive. 5,766 members are currently unvaccinated and 221 of them have tested positive in the same timespan.
Photo Cred: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong,File