The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is warning of an “imminent threat to public safety” and a “pandemic of chaos” because of staffing shortages caused by the city’s vaccine mandate.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who has said he won’t enforce the county’s order that took effect Oct. 1, said Thursday that up to 30 percent of the department’s 18,000 employees are “no longer available” to provide service following the Board of Supervisors mandate for all 110,000 employees.
“We are experiencing an increase in unscheduled retirements, worker compensation claims, employees quitting, and a reduction in qualified applicants,” Villanueva said in a statement obtained by The Post. “As a result, homicide rates will continue to rise, response times will increase, solve rates will diminish, arrests will decline, patrol services will significantly decline, and patrol stations will close.”
Villanueva said he’s vaccinated, but added that the decision to get jabbed is a “personal one” and that any county employee, including in his department, should not face termination because of their own personal health decision.
“In the near future, unless something changes, the ‘defunded’ and ‘de-staffed’ Sheriff’s Department will no longer be able to sustain the staffing levels required to maintain public safety at the status quo,” Villanueva’s statement continued. “My personnel already wear masks and would submit to routine COVID-19 testing, so termination makes no sense.”
In a letter to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Villanueva said he could potentially lose 44 percent of his workforce in one day if he followed the mandate.
“I cannot enforce reckless mandates that put the public’s safety at risk,” the letter reads, adding that the department has already lost more than 1,000 positions due to defunding efforts.
Homicide rates are up 44 percent as of this week, Villanueva said, with aggravated assaults up nearly 23 percent.
“Compounding this issue is the fact my department is experiencing a mass exodus of employees who are retiring early,” the letter continues, “I currently have 1,605 employees that have 28 years of service or more … This mandate would certainly expedite many of these employees’ decision to retire.”
Villanueva said there’s “no justification” for the mandate as the pandemic is beginning to wane.
“This mandate is like putting up storm windows after the storm has passed,” the letter reads. “As the sheriff, I can firmly tell you this mandate will create a pandemic of chaos within our county resulting in tragic losses.”
A message seeking comment from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in response to Villanueva’s letter was not immediately returned early Friday.