A judge denied a temporary restraining order on Thursday, April 7, which would have kept Los Angeles County supervisors to assume the power of fire over sheriff’s deputies and other employees who will not be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The Los Angeles County Association of Professional Peace Officers, which represents high-ranking deputies, asked the judge to strike down a law passed Tuesday, April 5, by supervisors that empowered the county’s chief personnel officer to discipline and to dismiss any employee who fails to do so. comply with the vaccine mandate.
The city law shifted disciplinary power to the tenure of county department heads, including Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who balked at forcing his deputies to get vaccinated.
Judge Mitchell Beckloff denied the union’s request, ruling he could wait for the county to outline its plans in more detail before filing another attempted restraining order.
County prosecutors said at the hearing that the personnel department would send deputies a letter outlining plans for warrant compliance and discipline.
The fight for the mandate began in late 2021 when supervisors ordered all county employees to get vaccinated or seek religious or medical exemptions.
According to the most recent numbers available, the sheriff’s department has one of the lowest vaccination rates among county agencies. The office of LA County CEO Fesia Davenport told the latest news that 55% of sheriff’s employees are fully vaccinated.
His office does not have up-to-date vaccination rate data from the sheriff’s department because Villanueva declined to join the county’s testing and recording system.
Despite his resistance, Villanueva has repeatedly said he is vaccinated and encourages his employees to get vaccinated as well. The sheriff said he would not enforce the warrant for fear that thousands of deputies would resign if forced to get vaccinated.
In a Washington Post op-ed, Villanueva said that around 4,000 employees could be made redundant under the mandate.
“MPs tell me they’d rather quit or retire than be publicly humiliated by a liberal oversight board, with its media cheerleaders, telling them what to put in their bodies,” he said. writing. “I expect a slow-motion exodus from the force in the weeks and months to come.”
Other major law enforcement agencies, such as the Los Angeles Police Department, have not experienced mass exoduses due to their vaccination mandates. Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said last month that a total of three officers had been fired so far after their exemptions were denied and they refused to get vaccinated.
In a February 16 broadcast on Facebook LiveVillanueva said three department employees have died so far in 2022 after contracting the coronavirus.
“In the past three weeks we have lost three people to COVID,” the sheriff said. “Both vaccinated and unvaccinated.”
Several Sheriff’s Department officials declined to say who those employees were. Villanueva tweeted on Jan. 21 that he attended a family event for a Rescue Brewing Co. deputy in Upland. But according to the Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, Deputy Andrew Myers died in October 2021.
“One of our heroes, Deputy Andrew Myers, sadly passed away due to complications related to COVID,” Villanueva said. “I will always support the families of my deceased MPs.”
The department declined to identify the employees or say whether they were assistants or civilian staff.
“These two deaths did not occur while on duty,” deputy spokeswoman Grace Medrano said, “so details will not be released.”
The county CEO’s office was unable to say who the deceased employees were.
Other law enforcement agencies in the area have made public when an employee has died of COVID-19, sometimes providing the name.
Chief Moore provides weekly updates to the Los Angeles Police Board on the status of officers with COVID-19. In recent weeks, Moore has detailed the ongoing hospitalization of an officer suffering from a severe attack from the virus.
Jim Cunningham, an attorney for the Professional Peace Officers Association, said the group would not fight a vaccination mandate if Villanueva, unlike supervisors, ordered it. This is because the employee’s contract stipulates that the deputies must negotiate with him and not with the board of directors. The sheriff would only have to negotiate the details of the order.
“We have been consistent since the start of the pandemic that an employer can mandate vaccines,” he said.