Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva warned that a proposed vaccine mandate for the police force would mean a "death blow to public safety" at a time when violent crime is skyrocketing.
Villanueva told the Board of Directors at an online meeting that the mandate could result in as many as 4,000 police officers being fired from the force.
"Your motion is going to seek to basically cause us to actually lose 4,000 employees, for a grand total of 0.4% improvement in positivity rate," Villanueva said according to KABC-TV.
"We're coming off two years of a historically high 94% increase in homicide rate, 64% increase in grand theft auto. And this is just not sustainable. The current situation is not sustainable. The hiring freeze is not sustainable," he continued.
He added that the mandate was "ill-advised, illogical and probably in the long run illegal."
The supervisors noted that more than 81% of the county's employees were vaccinated, but in the sheriff's department, only 60% were compliant with the order.
The board voted to give preliminary approval to have the county personnel director override the power of the sheriff to fire his employees in order to impose the policy that Villanueva is refusing to implement. The board will have a final vote on the proposal at their meeting on March 15.
Villanueva has encouraged vaccination but has been outspoken against a vaccine mandate. In a public statement released after the vote, he heavily criticized the board for taking action.
"This is nothing more than another politically motivated stunt by the oard, which has no bearing on public health, but will definitely harm public safety," read the statement in part.
Villanueva also called the policy a "suicide pact."
The sheriff is facing a call among some community groups and unions demanding he be impeached. Villanueva dismissed them as being part of "coordinated attacks on a Latino Sheriff who leads a predominantly Latino department."
Here's more about the battle over the vaccine mandate:
LA County Supervisors move to take COVID vaccine enforcement out of Villanueva's hands www.youtube.com