SAN DIEGO — Local law enforcement union representatives are sounding the alarm on staffing shortages they say are caused by vaccine mandates and unaffordable housing.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors discussed employment challenges the county sheriff’s department and city police department are facing and voted to look into the cause.

“The amount of officers out on the street responding to 9-1-1 calls or investigating crimes is incredibly low,” said Jared Wilson, President of the San Diego Police Officers Association. “We have police beats that are going unstaffed on a daily basis and communities left without policing and 911 responses are delayed because of the lack of staffing.”

Wilson and many others in the industry attribute the exodus to vaccine mandates. At least 160 San Diego city police officers could lose their job for failing to meet the city’s December deadline to get vaccinated.

“The primary reason is over the vaccine mandate,” Wilson said. “[Officers] are leaving for other organizations that don’t have a mandate and at the point now with staffing this low, we are even having vaccinated officers leave because they don’t want to deal with the staffing issue the city has created.”

High housing costs are also a factor in the safety crisis. According to county documents, only 27% of San Diego police officers live in the city of San Diego.

For the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, staffing is at its lowest in 30 years, according to David Leonhardi, the president of the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association of San Diego County.

“In our county jails, the staffing emergency is so bad,” Leonhardi said. “Our deputies have been placed on a mandatory overtime directive, that mandates the work at least two, or three overtime shifts, each pay period. This is resulting in overworked, stressed out deputies, a vast decline in morale and significantly more retirements than normal.”

Applications to the sheriff’s department have decreased 25% in the last year, further adding stress to the system.

Union leaders are advocating to drop vaccine mandates and raise pay.

“[Officers] want to stay in this community, they don’t want to leave, but we need to end the vaccine mandate, approve testing and pay them levels they should be paid,” Wilson said.

The county board of supervisors unanimously voted to have the Chief Administrative Officer work with the sheriff’s department look into the staffing issues and present recommendations in six months.

FOX 5 reached out to SDPD and San Diego County Sheriff’s Office for comment and have not yet heard back.