RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco says he will not enforce any type of COVID-19 vaccination mandate on employees of the sheriff's department.
"Over the past couple of weeks, the idea of forced vaccination has caused much concern across the entire country," Bianco said in a statement released Monday. "I will not enforce the vaccine mandate on Sheriff's Department employees."
"The government has no ability and no authority to mandate your health choices," he said. "As your sheriff, I have an obligation to guard your liberty and freedom."
Bianco, who along with his entire family recovered from coronavirus infections last winter, emphasized that "I am certainly not anti-vaccine; I am anti-vaccine for me."
According to the sheriff, his motivation for stating the policy unequivocally came after his podcast last week was monitored by a newspaper reporter, who he claimed "cherry-picked statements from supposed health experts in an attempt to paint me ... in a negative light." He did not name the reporter and publication.
Last year, Bianco refused to assign deputies to enforce the state's mask mandate and rejected Gov. Gavin Newsom's stay-at-home orders, calling them a violation of "constitutional rights."
The sheriff's statement comes after President Joe Biden last week announced sweeping new federal vaccine requirements that would affect companies with 100 or more employees.
City News Service contributed to this report.