Dozens of state troopers have submitted resignation papers in unity against the Massachusetts COVID vaccine mandate, reports the State Police Association of Massachusetts (SPAM) union.
The Massachusetts mandate requires executive department employees to be vaccinated by October 17 or face consequences. About 80% of the troopers are already vaccinated, but 20% are at risk of losing their jobs if they don’t provide proof of their vaccination status by the October deadline, WBZ-TV reported. It’s unclear what other disciplinary action could be a result, but an August press release suggests it could lead to termination.
Michael Cherven, SPAM president, suggested in a statement some troopers wanted to be assigned to different departments that provided more relaxed alternatives than a vaccine. Those alternatives could be more use of the mask and regularly scheduled testing, but it appears that wasn’t going to be an option for those who handed in resignation papers.
The mandate was put in place by Governor Charlie Baker (R-MA). He issued an executive order in August that demanded all Executive Department employees to be fully vaccinated by either Moderna, Pfizer, or Johnson & Johnson by the October date. Baker suggested the vaccine was the best way to keep more people protected, but faced push-back from dozens of troopers. Baker also stated this mandate included both people working at home and those working in person, not permitting an alternate solution for teleworkers.
The State Police union tried to put this mandate on hold for their officers, but their request to the judge was denied. The union, which represents about 1,800 members, then released a statement in response:
Throughout COVID, we have been on the front lines protecting the citizens of Massachusetts and beyond. Simply put, all we are asking for are the same basic accommodations that countless other departments have provided to their first responders, and to treat a COVID related illness as a line of duty injury.
To date, dozens of troopers have already submitted their resignation paperwork, some of whom plan to return to other departments offering reasonable alternatives such as mask wearing and regular testing. The State Police are already critically short staffed and acknowledged this by the unprecedented moves which took troopers from specialty units that investigate homicides, terrorism, computer crimes, arson, gangs, narcotics, and human trafficking, and returned them to uniformed patrol.
When it comes to staffing, Cherven stated the State Police of Massachusetts is already ‘critically short staffed’ and they’re deeply disappointed in the judge’s decision to support the mandate and not allow for alternatives, such as masking and testing.
“We are disappointed in the judge’s ruling; however, we respect her decision,” Cherven said. “It is unfortunate that the Governor and his team have chosen to mandate one of the most stringent vaccine mandates in the country with no reasonable alternatives.”
It’s unclear how this will impact public safety or if new recruits will be available in time to make up for the loss of employees.
Gov. Baker’s full executive order that caused the mass resignation of Massachusetts state troopers can be read here.
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