"Over the past couple of weeks, the idea of forced vaccination has caused much concern across the entire country," Riverside County Sheriff Chad 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 and his family recovered from the coronavirus last winter, ABC7 reported, and he added in his statement: "I am certainly not anti-vaccine; I am anti-vaccine for me."
Bianco added that he was inspired to release the statement after he conducted a podcast on forced vaccinations, and said a local newspaper would use "cherry picked" comments from "supposed" health officials "in an attempt to paint me and the Sheriff’s department in a negative light."
"This is nothing but sensationalism trying to gain readership and further divide us as Americans."
Bianco has been vocal during the pandemic on the government’s involvement restricting people to their homes during lockdowns and refused to enforce Gov. Gavin Newsom's coronavirus stay-at-home order last year.
"These closures and stay-at-home orders are flat-out ridiculous," Bianco said at the time.
"The Riverside County Sheriff's Department will not be blackmailed, bullied or used as muscle against Riverside County residents in the enforcement of the governor's order," he added.
He also slammed the state’s liberal governor as "hypocritical," citing the controversial photos of Newsom last fall dining in a swanky restaurant maskless and surrounded by people from outside of his own household.
Bianco’s comments come after members of the Los Angeles Police Department filed a federal lawsuit over the weekend to overturn the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. While a professor in California also recently filed a lawsuit against the University of California school system's Board of Regents and president over a coronavirus vaccine mandate, which he argued he does not need because of his natural immunity against the virus.