Cities, police unions clash as vaccine mandates take effect

Oct 14, 2021, 11:35 PM | Updated: Oct 15, 2021, 2:52 pm
FILE - This May 13, 2021, file photo shows syringes filled with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at a ...

FILE - This May 13, 2021, file photo shows syringes filled with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at a mobile vaccination site in Miami. Police departments that are requiring officers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 are running up against pockets of resistance across the U.S. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

Police departments around the U.S. that are requiring officers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 are running up against pockets of resistance that some fear could leave law enforcement shorthanded and undermine public safety.

Police unions and officers are pushing back by filing lawsuits to block the mandates. In Chicago, the head of the police union called on members to defy the city’s Friday deadline for reporting their COVID-19 vaccination status.

Seattle’s police department sent detectives and non-patrol officers to emergency calls this week because of a shortage of patrol officers that union leaders fear will become worse because of vaccine mandates.

The standoffs are playing out at a time when many police departments already are dealing with surging homicide rates and staff shortages unrelated to the vaccine. Cities and police leaders are now weighing the risk of losing more officers to resignations, firings or suspensions over their refusal to get vaccinated.

Chicago’s mayor on Friday filed a complaint in court against the leader of the local Fraternal Order of Police, accusing him of “engaging in, supporting and encouraging work stoppage or strike” by saying the city’s more than 12,000 uniformed officers should ignore the order to report their vaccination status.

On Thursday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said officers would not be sent home if they showed up to work Friday and refused to provide their information. Instead, she said, they would be put on unpaid leave after the weekend, because confirming compliance would take a few days.

Refusing to provide the information, Lightfoot said, would constitute an act of insubordination.

John Catanzara, president of the FOP local in Chicago, said about half of his members have not been vaccinated and called a mandate requiring inoculation “absolutely wrong.”

“They were willing to go into a no-pay status at midnight tonight and get sent home,” he said, suggesting during an appearance on Fox News that the city could not afford to lose police officers.

“You know, the reality is we have a profession nobody else wants to do right now. They cannot get anybody to go into this police academy,” he said.

In Los Angeles County, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said he won’t force his 18,000 employees to be vaccinated despite a county mandate. “I don’t want to be in a position to lose 5, 10% of my workforce overnight,” he said last week.

Hundreds of police officers in San Diego said they would consider quitting instead of complying with a vaccination mandate.

Resistance is bubbling up even though first responders have been hit hard by COVID-19. More than 460 law enforcement officers have died from the virus, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks deaths in the line of duty.

Disputes over government and business vaccine requirements have spilled over into a variety of workplaces, including one of the nation’s premier nuclear weapons laboratories and the NBA.

Workers at Los Alamos National Laboratory — the birthplace of the atomic bomb — faced a deadline Friday to get vaccinated or risk being fired. A New Mexico judge denied a last-minute request by dozens of scientists and others to block the mandate.

In the NBA, the Brooklyn Nets are not allowing star Kyrie Irving to practice or play until he is vaccinated.

In Italy, protests erupted Friday as vaccine requirements went into effect for all workers, from magistrates to maids, to help control the spread of the coronavirus

The number of Americans getting vaccines has steadily increased over the past three months as boosters have become available and mandates have taken effect. The number of shots administered per day has topped 840,000 on average.

No national statistics show the vaccination rate for America’s first responders, but individual police and fire departments across the country have reported figures far below the national rate of 77% for adults who have had at least one dose.

Police departments in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Denver are also among those under vaccine mandates or facing one. New York’s mayor has said he is looking at the idea despite opposition from the city’s largest police union.

The union representing some 1,000 Seattle police personnel suggests that the mandate could worsen staffing shortages, which in turn could risk public safety. The union’s president, Mike Solan, said the city’s police force lost some 300 officers over the past 18 months and anticipates another “mass exodus” in the coming weeks.

As of last week, nearly 300 of the 1,000 uniformed officers in Seattle had either not turned in paperwork showing they were vaccinated or were seeking an exemption, the mayor’s office said. But scores more are believed to have been vaccinated since then.

“People believe in personal choice, and we as a union have to represent everybody,” Solan said. “We’re not going to play the games of segregating between the vaxxed and the unvaxxed, It’s not about that. This is about saving jobs.”

In recent weeks, judges have rejected attempts by a group of Oregon State Police troopers and Denver police officers to block vaccine mandates.

___

Associated Press writers Susan Montoya Bryan in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Don Babwin in Chicago contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Canadian tourist killed, 2 wounded in Mexico resort shooting

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A Canadian tourist was killed Friday and two more wounded in a shooting at a hotel along Mexico’s Caribbean coast, state authorities said. Quintana Roo state security chief Lucio Hernández said via Twitter that authorities were searching for a Hotel Xcaret guest in the shooting. He shared a photo of a […]
15 hours ago
FILE - Buffalo Bills wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie (19) carries the ball during the second half of ...
Associated Press

New York mobile sports bets top $600M in 2 weeks, rival NJ

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — New York sportsbooks took more than $600 million worth of bets from phones or computers in the first two weeks of the activity being legal this month, according to figures posted Friday. The numbers posted by the New York State Gaming Commission show that the four currently operating mobile sportsbooks […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

Man who used shoplifters for resale scheme sentenced

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia man was sentenced Friday to eight years and one month in federal prison for organizing a network of shoplifters, many of them addicted to drugs, to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars in store merchandise that he then resold on the internet. A federal jury convicted Nedeltcho Vladimirov […]
15 hours ago
FILE - This police camera video provided by The Moab Police Department shows Gabrielle "Gabby" Peti...
Associated Press

FBI: Laundrie admitted killing Gabby Petito in notebook

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) — The boyfriend of slain cross-country traveler Gabby Petito admitted killing her in a notebook discovered near his body in a Florida swamp, the FBI announced Friday. It was the first time authorities squarely pinned the blame for Petito’s death on Brian Laundrie, though he was the prime suspect all along. […]
15 hours ago
FILE - Sen. Barbara Blackmon, D-Canton, speaks at the well in the Senate Chamber at the Mississippi...
Associated Press

Black Mississippi senators protest vote on race theory bill

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Black lawmakers walked out in protest Friday and withheld their votes as the Mississippi Senate passed a bill that would ban schools from teaching critical race theory. The state superintendent of education has said critical race theory is not being taught in Mississippi schools and legislators have offered no evidence to […]
15 hours ago
FILE - The White House in the background, President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Washington, J...
Associated Press

House panel obtains Trump records after Supreme Court ruling

WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Archives and Records Administration has provided a House committee with more than 700 pages of presidential documents after the Supreme Court rejected a bid by former President Donald Trump to block the release. The House panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection received the documents Thursday evening, according to […]
15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]
...

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
Cities, police unions clash as vaccine mandates take effect