Democratic State Sen. Richard Pan introduced Senate Bill (SB) 1464 back in February. He wrote: "Existing law authorizes each sheriff to enforce all orders of the California Department of Public Health (DPH), or of the local health officer, issued for the purpose of preventing the spread of any contagious, infectious or communicable disease." Pan added that SB 1464 would "require … sheriffs and peace officers to enforce those [health] orders."
"The bill would additionally prohibit state funds from being provided to any law enforcement agency that publicly announces that they will oppose, or adopt a policy to oppose, a public health order." In case police departments in the Golden State refuse to enforce public health orders, money originally allocated to them will "be reallocated to the county public health department of the county in which the law enforcement agency operates for public health purposes."
Republican State Assemblyman Kevin Kiley took to social media to denounce Pan's proposal. "The [California State] Senate considers legislation to defund police for not enforcing mask mandates. It's the most fanatical threads of 'progressivism' knotted into one bill," he wrote.
The state senator and practicing physician reiterated his support toward COVID-19 mask mandates through a Feb. 28 statement on his website.
"In following the science, I will continue to wear a mask indoors in public spaces and large mass gatherings where social distancing is not allowed. I [also] join [California Health and Human Services Agency] Secretary [Mark] Ghaly in asking all Californians of good conscience to continue to wear masks indoors to protect the most vulnerable among us. Too many have died of COVID-19, including over a thousand U.S. children, and too many others are suffering COVID-related disabilities – including long COVID." (Related: Medical authoritarian Dr. Richard Pan believes government of California controls all medical choices for parents and their children, including forced vaccination.)
Pan's SB 1464 appears to be aimed at Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva. The Democratic sheriff went against the grain by opposing mandatory face coverings back in July 2021, contrary to other Democrats that supported the mandate.
"Forcing the vaccinated and those who already contracted COVID-19 to wear masks indoors is not backed by science and contradicts the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. The L.A. County DPH has authority to enforce the order, but the underfunded/defunded L.A. County Sheriff's Department (LASD) will not expand [its] limited resources and instead ask for voluntary compliance," Villanueva stated in a July 16, 2021 statement.
The sheriff called on the county DPH to work with the county's Board of Supervisors and law enforcement to establish mandates "that are both achievable and supported by science."
Months later in October 2021, Villanueva again made it to the headlines by announcing that LASD will not enforce a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
"I don't want to force anyone [because] the issue has become so politicized. There are entire groups of employees that are willing to be fired and laid off rather than get vaccinated, so I don't want to be in a position to lose five percent [or] 10 percent of my workforce overnight on a vaccine mandate," said the L.A. County sheriff.
He also denounced the defunding effort against already "bare bones" police departments, coupling it with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers as "the worst of two worlds."
Villanueva later tweeted: "When a decision must be made between responding to a violent felony in progress or serving as the 'vaccine mandate police,' the choice is simple. [LASD] will continue requiring all of [its] employees to register [if they are vaccinated], but will only seek voluntary compliance and testing for the unvaccinated."
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