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Rantz: Seattle Police could lose 200+ officers over vaccine mandate terminations

Police at the scene of a shooting in Seattle's Belltown neighborhood. (SPD Blotter)

The Seattle Police Department has lost roughly 300 officers since last year’s push to defund. It may lose 200 more officers over Mayor Jenny Durkan’s COVID vaccine mandate.

The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH has learned that there are just over 200 officers who say they either haven’t been vaccinated against COVID or refuse to turn over their private medical data. That represents roughly 20% of the SPD’s deployable staff.

Under the vaccine mandate, city workers who do not get the shots will be terminated. The SPD, already stretched dangerously thin, cannot stand to lose any more officers.

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Get the shots or lose your job

The City of Seattle now says full vaccination against COVID is a condition of employment, regardless of one’s age, risk factors, or prior infection. Religious and medical exemptions are offered, but it’s unclear if the city will accommodate the requests.

City staff must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18.

But some officers with the SPD do not believe the vaccine is necessary to do their job. Officers have been in the field for the last 17 months without a vaccine. Others don’t think the government has the right to data on private medical decisions, even if they may be vaccinated. It’s simply not the government’s business, some argue.

Durkan’s mandate was subject to impact bargaining with the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild (SPOG). The union has been negotiating with city leaders, and an agreement on terms could come this week or early next week. But it’s unclear how many of the 200 officers will be satisfied.

At least one union negotiating with the city is asking for severance packages for staff who choose to forgo vaccination.

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Staffing is already a crisis. This would be catastrophic

If even a small portion of the officers are terminated due to the mandate, the effect would be catastrophic.

The SPD is already staffed at record lows not seen since the 1980s. Consequently, proactive policing is non-existent for the majority of Seattle.

Many times, there are only about 70 officers patrolling the city on any given night. This has helped lead to a surge in violent crime with the city on pace to break the 26-year-high homicide rate set in 2020. With just over 1,000 deployable officers, the city is about 300-500 officers shy of where they hope to be.

“We are hopeful that terminations will not be necessary and all unvaccinated employees choose to get vaccinated,” a Durkan spokesperson told Crosscut.

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Did you like this opinion piece? Then listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz  on  Twitter,  Instagram, and Parler, and like me on Facebook

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