10/28/2021 / By Matthew Davis
Major cities across the United States are in danger of losing a big chunk of their police forces due to resistance to the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine mandates.
In Chicago, more than 4,500 employees of the city’s police department refused to disclose their vaccine status. This resulted to a standoff between Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the city’s Fraternal Order of Police.
“It’s safe to say that the city of Chicago will have a police force at 50 percent or less for this weekend coming up,” said Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara. This poses a problem considering the rising crime rates. (Related: Chaos coming to Chicago over COVID vaccine mandate as head of police union tells members to defy mayor’s order.)
Employees of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) filed a federal lawsuit opposing the city’s vaccine mandate. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told the Associated Press earlier this month: “I don’t want to be in a position to lose 5 percent, 10 percent of my workforce overnight.”
Villanueva added that he won’t enforce the county-level mandate.
Jason Johnson, former deputy commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department and now president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, told the Daily Signal: “Are cities going to enforce this mandate? There is greater risk to public safety by enforcing the mandate than not enforcing the mandate.”
Two-thirds of Baltimore Police Department employees got at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, below the Maryland state average of 85 percent, Baltimore’s WJZ-TV reported. Those numbers are similar to Chicago’s.
Baltimore Police union leader, Sgt. Mike Mancuso, wrote to members: “Until the city responds to our right to bargain these issues, or the courts intervene, I suggest you do nothing in regard to revealing your vaccination status, as it is outlined in the city’s policy.”
More than 230 police officers across the country have died from COVID-19 so far in 2021, according to non-profit media organization NPR. COVID-19 killed nearly 250 officers nationwide last year.
NPR reported that at least 150 Massachusetts State Police officers resigned ahead of the state’s vaccine mandate. Around 85 percent of police officers in the state are vaccinated.
The Seattle Times reported that the Washington State Patrol is also against the state vaccine mandate. On Monday, Oct. 25, it lost 53 civil servants and 74 commissioned officers – 67 troopers, six sergeants and one captain. That came after a viral final signoff last week from one Washington state trooper, who told Washington Gov. Jay Inslee what he thought of the mandate in no uncertain terms.
USA Today reported that the Seattle Police Department lost more than 300 officers. The Seattle municipal government employees were told to comply with the mandate by Tuesday, Oct. 26. Seattle Police Officers Guild President Mike Solan said he is expecting another “mass exodus.”
In Oregon, state police troopers sued to stop or delay the mandate – but lost in state court on Oct. 7. “This is more than just police officers,” said Johnson, the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund president. “We are seeing this among firefighters and teachers. These mandates were not well thought through.” (Related: Oregon firefighters, police officers sue Gov. Brown over covid vaccine mandate.)
Meanwhile, police employees reached a deal with the city of Milwaukee last week.
Police unions are likely open to negotiating a face-saving measure for mayors who don’t want to be seen as admitting to a poor policy, Johnson said.
“This should provide more incentives to get vaccinated, not impose mandates,” Johnson noted. “There can be adjustments to make for officers hesitant to get vaccinated. If they have natural immunity, they can be exempt. If they don’t have natural immunity, they could have the option of wearing a mask. They could be put on limited duty.”
Mayors and other municipal officials will have to reconsider a policy that leads to a massive loss of police officers, said John Malcolm, director of the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation.
“I would be more worried about murderers, rapists, and drug dealers acting with impunity than I would about a couple of police officers transmitting the virus,” Malcolm said. “I don’t know why these officers are refusing to get the vaccine. Presumably, they have a good reason. But any policy that leads to mass firings of police has to be fixed.”
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