The sheriff warns that the vaccine’s mandate is causing “mass evictions” among staff

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva continues to oppose the county’s authority to vaccinate, warning that this is causing a “mass exodus” in his department and threatening public safety at a time when violent crime is on the rise.

“I have repeatedly cited threats to public safety when 20-30% of my workforce is no longer available to provide services, and those threats are fast becoming a reality,” Villanueva said in a prepared statement he last posted on social media. week. “We are experiencing an increase in unplanned retirements, claims for compensation from workers, redundant employees, and a decrease in the number of qualified candidates.”

As a result, he said, murder rates in the district will continue to rise, response times are increasing and patrol services are declining.

“As the pandemic subsides, there is no excuse for the committee’s mandate,” Villanueva said. “It’s like putting up windows for a storm after the storm has passed.”

Under an executive order ratified by the supervisory board in August, all Los Angeles County employees were required to report their vaccination status by October 1 on a web portal, although religious and health exceptions are allowed.

As of Friday, more than 90% of county employees, including 79% of Sheriff’s Department employees, have registered their status, Michael Wilson, a district spokesman, said in an email to The Times. He did not say whether the district is monitoring how many employees have resigned or retired early, especially after the vaccine term.

“The district expects all department heads to encourage their employees to register as an important public health measure to protect workers and the public we serve,” Wilson said. “Vaccination policy is intended to save lives, not to punish employees according to their vaccination status.”

According to preliminary data collected by the county, more than half of the 16,084 employees in the sheriff’s department are fully vaccinated. Almost 300 of them are half-vaccinated. Another 2,327 employees have not been vaccinated, and 1,843 are asking for exemption.

Of the 9,656 sworn staff sheriffs, 3,942 have been fully vaccinated, according to county records. 188 workers are partially vaccinated, 1,698 are not vaccinated and almost 1,369 are looking for exceptions.

According to the county, of the 6,428 civil servants in the department, 4,238 are fully vaccinated. About 100 are semi-vaccinated and 629 are unvaccinated. Another 474 workers are asking for exceptions.

Notices are sent in batches to county officials who have not followed vaccination policies, Wilson said. The notification informs them that they must complete the authorization within 45 days of receiving the notification.

After that time, employees who still have not shown proof of vaccination or demanded exemption will receive a five-day suspension, Wilson said. Employees then have 30 days to return from suspension to meet the requirements.

Employees who do not sign up are reminded to do so and begin testing within five days of notification or face discipline, Wilson said.

“We hope that 100% of our workforce will comply with the policy and register in the system, and that those who want to find accommodation will take full advantage of the process that has been put in place for them to do so,” Wilson said. .

Los Angeles County is one of several jurisdictions nationwide that requires vaccinations from employees. As a result of this move, one police union – a Los Angeles sheriff’s professional assistant, made up of about 1,850 members – has filed a lawsuit to register the vaccination. The union is demanding a temporary restraining order.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles groups police officers in firefighters they have filed a lawsuit against the city, alleging that its vaccination mandate violates their rights and does not take into account the protection that some of them enjoy against antibodies obtained from a previous COVID-19 infection. The city council last week voted to extend the deadline to Dec. 18, during which city workers must show proof of vaccination or face disciplinary action.

The LAPD has affected more than 3,000 employees with COVID-19, and since last week, more than 100 staff have been recovering at home, said LAPD chief Michel Moore. About 74 percent of LAPD employees had had at least one dose of the vaccine, he said.

But recent data has shown that hundreds of officials still have not told the department whether they have been vaccinated.

The vaccination district’s mandate came when the state faced an increase in coronavirus cases triggered by the emergence of a highly contagious disease. Delta variant.

In recent weeks, the number of weekly coronavirus cases and hospitalizations across the country has increased plateau and the transfer rate was among the lowest in the country. Officials hope the vaccine requirements and other safety rules will help prevent a new rise in cases and deaths this winter, especially during the holiday season.

In a statement addressed to the Los Angeles County Supervisory Board, Villanueva noted that staff in his department already wear masks and are regularly tested for COVID-19.

“I have been vaccinated personally and I believe the vaccine works,” he said, “but the choice to receive the vaccine is personal and an individual who tirelessly served the community before the vaccine was should not be fired now because it is a decision about their body. ”

Times personal writers Alena Tchekmedyian, Luke Money, Rong-Gong Lin II, and Kevin Rector contributed to this report.

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