With rising crime, LA law enforcement agencies could lose officers to COVID vaccine mandates

Both LAPD and LASD say they can't afford to lose employees with crime on the rise.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The latest vaccination statistics for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department show more than 44% of the department still hasn't received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and the deadline was over two months ago.

The Los Angeles Police Department, however, is reporting better compliance with 21% of its staff not yet vaccinated.

The leaders of those organizations say they can't afford to lose employees with crime on the rise.

"It's actually disrupting our ability to provide public safety services to Los Angeles County," said L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva during a news conference about the county's vaccine mandate on Nov. 3.

READ ALSO | Sheriff Villanueva won't enforce county's new mask order, claims 'not backed by science'
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Los Angeles County's decision to reinstate the indoor mask mandate is getting mixed reactions, with some blasting it as unnecessary and others saying they are prepared to do what it takes to keep themselves and others safe.

Villanueva has said he won't comply with the mandate requiring deputies to be vaccinated, and critics say that has sent a mixed message to deputies about the safety of the vaccines.

Meanwhile, LAPD Chief Michel Moore has struck a different tone.

"I'm concerned about the loss of any of our employees with the vaccine mandate, which is really the charge that I have, which is to educate them to inform them as to what the expectations are and what the benefits of this vaccine are," he said. "It saves lives."

Employees of both departments who fail to get fully vaccinated or submit a request for a religious or medical exemption could face disciplinary action including termination.

"My goal is not to clear people out," said Mayor Eric Garcetti, who recently contracted the virus while being fully vaccinated. "My goal is to protect people. I don't want to go and talk to one more widow of a firefighter or police officer. This is really simple for me. The number one killer of police officers, the number one killer of firefighters this past year, has been COVID."

Moore said LAPD has contingency plans to continue operations if they lose officers.

L.A. city government workers have until Dec. 18 to get fully vaccinated, and Moore said his goal is to have 100% of his workforce in full compliance.

In the sheriff's department, unvaccinated deputies can continue working if they agree to be tested once a week.

But on Monday, Villanueva sent a letter to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors saying he won't use the county's COVID testing provider, claiming an FBI briefing last Friday informed him that the company testing deputies, Fulgent, passes its information to China.

However, there's no proof of this claim.

In a statement, supervisor Janice Hahn said, "I wish the sheriff would get his deputies vaccinated instead of worrying about how the unvaccinated get tested."

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