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Los Angeles sheriff stripped of his enforcement power after he refused to make his staff get vaccinated despite county-wide mandate

INSIDER 2/12/2022 ydzhanova@businessinsider.com (Yelena Dzhanova)
Sheriff Alex Villanueva seen on a Facebook Live stream on October 7, 2021. Facebook/Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department © Facebook/Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department Sheriff Alex Villanueva seen on a Facebook Live stream on October 7, 2021. Facebook/Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department
  • Sheriff Alex Villanueva was stripped of the responsibility to enforce COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
  • Los Angeles lawmakers voted to remove this power after he refused to enforce the mandate.
  • The mandate requires that all 110,000 Los Angeles County employees be vaccinated by October 1.

Lawmakers in Los Angeles earlier this week voted to strip a sheriff who refused to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for his staff of his enforcement power.  

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors decided on Tuesday to relieve Sheriff Alex Villanueva of the responsibility to enforce COVID-19 vaccine mandates, The Los Angeles Times reported.

The decision to strip him of the responsibility comes after Villanueva has for months refused to enforce the mandate. 

In October, Villanueva said he would not enforce the mandate because he feared losing a chunk of his staff. 

"No, I am not forcing anyone, the issue has become so politicized there are entire groups of employees that are willing to be fired and laid off rather than get vaccinated," he said in a Facebook Live stream. 


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"I don't want to be in a position to lose 5 to 10% of my workforce overnight on a vaccine mandate," Villanueva added. 

In August, the chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors issued an executive order that required all of the 110,000 people employed by Los Angeles County to be vaccinated by October 1.

"Unfortunately, the Sheriff's Department is the only department in the county that's refused to implement this policy," board supervisor Janice Hahn said of the decision to strip Villanueva of his power, The Times reported. "I think we were left with no other choice."

The decision will allow the county to place enforcement responsibilities in the hands of someone who complies with and believes in the mandate, The Times reported. However, county employees who are not yet vaccinated will have a chance to get inoculated before potentially facing termination, The Times said.

Villanueva characterized the decision as a way to remove thousands of unvaccinated people from his department.

"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," Villanueva said in a Tuesday statement.

As of Tuesday, 83% of all county employees were fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, a county spokesperson told the Times.

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