Seattle mayor: ‘About two dozen’ SPD officers have yet to submit proof of vaccination

Oct 18, 2021, 7:27 AM | Updated: 12:06 pm
unvaccinated officers Seattle...
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. (KIRO 7)
(KIRO 7)

A vaccine mandate for City of Seattle employees takes effect on Monday, with “about two dozen” police officers having yet to submit their proof of vaccination, according to Mayor Jenny Durkan.

With the Seattle Police Officers Guild and the city failing to come to an agreement over a now-implemented COVID vaccine mandate, Mayor Durkan and interim Chief Adrian Diaz both submitted final pleas to unvaccinated officers over the weekend.

Local lawmaker pushes alternative for unvaccinated workers

The mayor’s office and most city worker unions agreed to a deal of their own last month, which included a $1,750 bonus for frontline workers, added personal leave, and an exception that allows employees to keep their jobs if they begin the vaccination process by Oct. 18, but then go on leave until they are fully vaccinated.

In a letter to officers sent out Sunday and acquired by the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, Durkan noted that “while Guild members will not receive these because there is not [an] agreement [with the union], the City stands ready to continue the good faith bargaining process.”

“But this does not change the fact that all City workers are required to be fully vaccinated by Monday, unless they have been exempted from the requirement for religious or medical reasons,” she added. “You and your families have sacrificed a lot and your work is important to the health and safety of our city. We do not want to lose you as employees. But we also need to do all we can to protect the community, our children, and city workers from COVID-19.”

Resistance against vaccine mandates among police unions has surfaced across the country as well, spanning departments ranging from Chicago to San Diego.

Speaking during a Monday press conference, Mayor Durkan estimated that 91% of SPD employees are fully vaccinated, while 7% have been given exemptions.

Despite concerns over 911 response times from a potential loss of officers, Durkan claimed that there would “not be significant impacts.”

A separate letter sent out to officers on Sunday by Chief Diaz letter described how the department is “working with the City to come up with temporary arrangements to ensure we can provide as many reasonable accommodations to medical and religious exemptions as possible and that serve to meet the needs of the department and community for a limited period of time.”

King County reaches deal with ‘majority’ of unions on vaccine mandate

“I do not want to lose anyone because of this mandate,” he reiterated.

Sources tell KTTH’s Jason Rantz Show that some officers are planning to take time off to decide what they will do long term, but “don’t seem eager to stay with SPD,” Rantz notes. Others say that they will be leaving the department by the end of the year because of the mandate.

Several officers also took photos of their patrol vehicles adorned with a “Don’t Tread On Me” flag in protest.

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Seattle mayor: ‘About two dozen’ SPD officers have yet to submit proof of vaccination