Today is the day. City of Seattle employees must submit records to prove they are fully vaccinated or else face termination. As of 10 am this morning, 99% of the city’s 11,000 employees have complied. That leaves 1% of employees — or about 150 individuals — who have yet to submit proof of vaccination or to receive an exemption. Of those 150 individuals, 24 work at the Seattle Police Department (SPD).
Even before the mandate, which Mayor Jenny Durkan announced a couple months ago alongside Gov. Jay Inslee and King County Executive Dow Constantine, Seattle and Washington boasted relatively high vaccination numbers. Still, the anti-mandate sentiment remained strong among conservatives, with protests against the state’s actions now a regular gig in Olympia. In Seattle, perhaps no other city department has been quite as fussy about the vaccine mandates as the Seattle Police Department.
Every major union for city employees negotiated on the mandate’s “impacts,” but the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) did not cut a deal in time for an officer to get one or two jabs ahead of the deadline.
During Monday’s city council briefing, Councilmember Lisa Herbold, the chair of the Public Safety and Human Services committee, reminded the council of SPD’s contingency plan for the potential loss of staff due to officers failing to comply with public health measures.
Some were projecting a total shitshow. Local twitter historian Brandi Kruse reported that SPD could lose up to 400 officers over the mandate. Though the numbers won’t rise that high, one cop (who would not be caught dead wearing a Back the Blue sticker) said the department will still feel the impact of officers deciding not to comply.
“In an organization that’s already short-staffed, 24 officers is significant – losing ten officers would be significant for us at this point,” the cop said, as the department is still grappling with the loss of about 100 officers in the first half of the year.
While this officer’s assignments have not been changed, some investigators are now answering 9-1-1 calls. The cop said there is talk of extending hours for folks on patrol, but right now they are on standby for updates.
The president of SPOG, Mike Solan said Friday that unvaccinated officers will not be immediately booted but rather given a notice for a Loudermill hearing to present their side of the story.
Despite conservative outcry, the vaccine mandate trend continues in an effort to finally put to bed an almost two-year-long pandemic. Next week, people aged 12 and older will be required to show proof of full vaccination status or a recent negative test in order to enter many indoor and outdoor events and businesses in King County.
“If you’re not COVID vaccinated yet, now’s the time to get started,” Herbold said.