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COVID Rules Prompt 'Open Arms' Video Offer to Officers at Risk of Job Loss

Officials in one Southern California county released a video this week urging officers in other areas who are at risk of losing their jobs over COVID-19 vaccine mandates to “drive north” and seek positions within the county’s law enforcement department.

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Vaccine mandates and other rules put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 have proven controversial in many workplaces across the U.S. This week, Kern County in California made an employment pitch to the 4,000 Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LACSD) officers who face potential firings if they do not comply with the county’s employee COVID vaccine mandate.

The pitch came one day after a Tuesday vote by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in favor of taking additional steps to enforce a vaccine mandate for county employees. Officials north of L.A. in Kern County shared a video on the county’s social media pages that started with a screenshot of an article from the Los Angeles-based news station KTTV about the board’s decision.

The video was retweeted by the Kern County Sheriff’s Office.

“To our fellow officers in Los Angeles…We’ve seen the headlines,” the video began. “Drive north, we have a place for you.”

The video then showed images of the Kern County landscape and of community parades that appeared to celebrate law enforcement officials.

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Officials in Kern County posted a video on social media that appeared to urge law enforcement officers in Los Angeles to seek new jobs further north. Above, Sheriff Alex Villanueva of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) speaks about a task force targeting wage theft outside of the Hall of Justice on February 9, 2021, in Los Angeles, California.
PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

“Kern County is built on strong values and tradition,” the video said. “Kern County is a community that backs the blue.”

The video went on to highlight the county’s “snowcapped mountains” and “desert canyons,” adding that it was both “affordable” and “fun” to live in the area.

“So take back your freedom and apply TODAY to work at the Kern County Sheriff’s Office,” the message continued as the video showed an image of an American flag. “You deserve a job that welcomes you, and your values, with open arms.”

The video concluded with an image of the Kern County Sheriff’s Office and a link to the county’s job listings.

Newsweek reached out to the Kern County Sheriff’s Office for comment.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in the past that he did not plan to enforce the county’s vaccine mandate for employees with the sheriff’s department. Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn told The Los Angeles Times that the LACSO was “the only department” that had “refused” to enforce the county’s vaccine requirement. County officials told the paper an estimated 83 percent of all county employees were fully vaccinated against the virus as of Tuesday.

Villanueva said the board had decided “to form a suicide pact” in a statement released after the vote. He said department employees who are not vaccinated are still required to test for the virus weekly and “have committed no administrative offense.”

“This is nothing more than another politically motivated stunt by the Board, which has no bearing on public health, but will definitely harm public safety,” Villanueva said.

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