What is shaping up to be a big challenge for law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles County is putting Inland Empire agencies at an advantage.

“We’re seeing a large influx of officers and deputies from Los Angeles County, LAPD, San Diego PD, that are looking to come to our agency because we are not enforcing a vaccine mandate,” said Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco.

L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said that more than 200 employees have opted for other agencies, as his department is already facing staffing challenges as a result of early retirements, the county’s Board of Supervisors imposing a hiring freeze, and now the vaccine mandate.

“I can hire 800 deputies right now and that’ll get me to 10,300, and we’re still going to be the most understaffed agency in the entire nation,” Villanueva said.

In October, Villanueva said he would not be enforcing the vaccine mandate, and still stands by his decision with about half of the force still unvaccinated.

The LAPD, which is also seeing a similar trend, said they could not comment on the matter but provided updated figures on the percentage of personnel who are vaccinated against COVID-19.

As of Jan. 22, 82.6% of LAPD employees are fully vaccinated, 0.5% are partially vaccinated, and 16.9% are not vaccinated. 

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office said in a statement, in part, “The City’s employee vaccine mandate is critical to protecting the health and safety of our workforce and the Angelenos we serve.”

They added that the mayor has authorized additional overtime funds for the LAPD.