By Sheriff Alex Villanueva
[On Feb. 8], 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 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.
This moral failure of leadership represents a curious backtracking of their position on the authority of the Human Resources Director to override the authority of the sheriff. At the beginning of my tenure they claimed I did not have the authority to hire and fire my workforce. Now they are claiming the opposite and need to remove that delegated authority from me!
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.
About the author: Alex Villanueva leads the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, largest sheriff’s department and the fourth largest local policing agency in the United States.