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In a press release titled “IMMINENT THREAT TO PUBLIC SAFETY,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva made clear on Thursday his opposition to a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for Sheriff’s Department employees.

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors approved a vaccine mandate for all county employees that went into effect on Oct. 1, and Villanueva has previously said he does not plan to enforce the mandate.

On Thursday, Villanueva took his concerns to the public, noting that “homicides continued to rise” and might continue to do so, while as much as “20%-30% of [the Sheriff’s Department] workforce is no longer available to provide service” with the mandate in place.

“The Board’s vaccination mandate is causing a mass exodus within the Department, which is an absolutely absurd result … We are experiencing an increase in unscheduled retirements, worker compensation claims, employees quitting, and a reduction in qualified applicants. 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 wrote.

Villanueva called the retirements, resignations and other responses to the vaccine mandates “predictable.”

“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,” he said.

Villanueva noted that he is vaccinated and he believes the vaccine works, but the decision should be left to individuals.

“An individual who served the community tirelessly before there was a vaccine should not now be fired because they made a decision about their own body … If you have an opinion on this matter, please call the Board of Supervisors and voice it. With the pandemic diminishing, there is no justification for the Board mandate; it is like putting up the storm windows after the storm has passed,” he concluded.