Rantz: Concern as 20 percent of fully vaccinated Seattle police hit with COVID this month

Jan 23, 2022, 12:00 PM | Updated: Jan 26, 2022, 9:54 am
Seattle police, COVID...
Bicycle police clear the streets for a women's rights demonstration. (Credit: Cindy Shebley via Flickr)
(Credit: Cindy Shebley via Flickr)

The fully vaccinated Seattle Police Department (SPD) suffered nearly 20% of its staff contracting COVID in just the first 21 days of January.

The vaccine mandate, which sidelined nearly 100 officers for termination, was supposed to stop the spread of COVID. But the omicron variant evades the vaccine, and the mandate was a permanent “solution” to an evolving problem.

Now, panic is setting in. The SPD is already experiencing a record low number of deployable staff. Interim Chief Adrian Diaz warns the department “can’t afford to have any more people get sick.”

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Dire staffing made worse by COVID

In just 10 days, from Jan. 11 through Jan. 21, the SPD saw 114 vaccinated officers out with COVID, according to an internal memo obtained by the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. The memo goes out to staff daily, offering updates on testing and the number of positive cases.

According to a separate memo, dated Jan. 21, Diaz confirmed that “nearly 20-percent of the department tested positive for COVID during the month of January alone, and dozens of officers are unavailable to work.”

The department lost an astonishing 170 officers in 2021 and 180 in 2020. It left a depleted staff of just 880 deployable sworn Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) members as of Jan. 11. With only 36 officers not-yet-sworn, and 25 students participating in field training, the department is far short of its goal of 1,400-1,600 officers.

“The current state of Seattle police staffing is off the charts dangerous for our community,” SPOG President Mike Solan previously warned the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

The department already struggles to meet minimum staffing every day, in every watch, in every precinct across the city. Some days they don’t meet that minimum. Now, they have COVID ravaging the department, forcing the quarantine of officers, including those who are asymptomatic.

Passing out masks but denying accommodations

It doesn’t seem like the SPD can do much to stop the spread of omicron, since it evades the vaccines.

“Because the omicron variant is so easily spread, the City is providing medical grade face coverings for all employees,” Diaz wrote in the Jan. 21 memo. “Please get yours, and please wear it. We can’t afford to have any more people get sick.”

Some health officials believe medical-grade masks help cut down transmission rates. But they also serve as a reminder that the city is still in the process of firing unvaccinated police officers (or those who do not want to turn in private medical paperwork). There was no testing option and no medical-grade mask option offered to accommodate these officers. They were told they posed a health risk: that they could catch and spread COVID to community members. They are no different than those who went through the vaccination process.

The vaccine mandate did not stop the spread of COVID. Indeed, the spread accelerated after the mandate. Yet there are no plans to rescind the order and bring back the much-needed officers.

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Rantz: Concern as 20 percent of fully vaccinated Seattle police hit with COVID this month