LA County Sheriff Villanueva refuses to enforce vaccine mandate at his agency: ‘Severely understaffed’

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva doubled down on his decision not to enforce a vaccine mandate at his department on Monday, telling Tucker Carlson that it would take years before he’d be able to replace a significant amount of his workforce with qualified officers and employees.

Villanueva, a Democrat, told “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that hundreds of sheriff’s employees have said they would be willing to lose their jobs rather than get the vaccine – and Los Angeles has too many crises like the surging homeless population for it to lose any more deputies.

The mandate required all Los Angeles County employees to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1 and has exemptions only for religious and medical reasons.  His department is already down close to 1,000 employees. The sheriff’s department employs around 18,000 workers.

“I have 1,600 potential people that have 28 years or more of service,” he said. “They could just walk away and not lose a penny and not even look back, and that is a huge threat to the department which is already severely understaffed.”

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva is interviewed by Reuters in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 24, 2020.  REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson - RC2ZFH9GENVO

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva is interviewed by Reuters in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 24, 2020.  REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson – RC2ZFH9GENVO

Villanueva said it takes him nearly a year and a half to replace an entry-level worker. “To replace a veteran thirty-year expert in whatever capacity — for example, homicide investigator,  those are decades it takes to replace somebody like that, and you cannot quantify the impact that it has on public safety,” he said.

“I guarantee you, homicides will go up. A lot of things will go up, and response times are going to get longer and longer.

Villaneuva said he’s received support from members  “across the political spectrum, except for one group, — the woke left who somehow has embraced this idea like it’s another cultural war to fight,” he told Carlson.

In July, Villanueva said he wouldn’t enforce a county mask mandate that was reinstated after a surge of the Delta variant, claiming it wasn’t “backed by science.” 

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More than 26,000 people have died of the coronavirus in Los Angeles County, which is the nation’s most populous county.

Despite plummeting case numbers, the city of Los Angeles recently approved one of the nation’s strictest vaccine mandates that requires anyone going to a bar, restaurant, shopping center, salon, gym, and many other locations to be vaccinated. 

Fox News’ Brie Stimson contributed to this report.

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