Police officers, prison guards and airport security officers are among the public security workers who resistvaccines, with confrontations over the ongoing issue as deadlines for getting vaccines roll in.
Law enforcement officers were among the first frontline workers to be offered coronavirus vaccines, but by most accounts their vaccination rates are lower or about the same as the general public figures. .
In Chicago, the union representing 13,000 police officers is advising its members to ignore a mandate from Mayor Lori Lightfoot to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Friday. If officers do not get vaccinated or agree to be tested twice a week at their own expense, the city says it will suspend them without pay.
The city’s stance prompted John Catanzara, chief of the Chicago Police Union, to warn that the streets of Chicago could be patrolled by only half of its workforce this weekend.
“All I can tell you is that if we suspect that the numbers are true and we get many of our members to stand firm in their belief that this is an overshoot, and that ‘They won’t provide the portal information, or submit for testing, so it’s safe to say that the city of Chicago will have a 50% police force, or less, for this coming weekend, ”he said. Catanzara told its members in a recent Youtube video.
Lightfoot, however, is not giving up its mandate, which applies to all workers in the city, including the police. “The only way to maximize the safety of our staff is to get people vaccinated,” Lightfoot Recount a press conference this week.
“It’s just astonishing to me, frankly, in light of the challenges its members have faced with the deaths,” said Catanzara’s Lightfoot. She noted that the city buried four police officers last year, all of whom died from COVID-19. “We don’t want to lose any more police,” she added.
Police officers lost to COVID-19
Chicago isn’t alone in losing cops to COVID. The virus killed more police officers nationwide last year than all other causes combined, according to data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Reluctance to get vaccinated persists even after more than 460 law enforcement officers have died since the start of the pandemic, all due to COVID-19 contracted at work. Coronavirus was the most common cause of service-related death in 2020 and 2021, according to Officer Down Memorial Page. That’s more than four times the number of service-related gun deaths.
The Los Angeles Police Department has been a major source of vaccine resistance among tens of thousands of city employees, although the city’s police chief reported last week that nearly two-thirds, or 65% of LAPD employees were vaccinated, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
Until mid-September, the LAPD had set its vaccination rate at around 46%.
A Los Angeles Times investigation of more than 2,500 coronavirus cases among Los Angeles County public safety agencies determined that more than half were from police and firefighters, according to a local CBS affiliate.
Los Angeles City employees are due to be vaccinated by October 19, and LA County employees faced an October 1 deadline.
Nearly 900 Los Angeles firefighters, mostly firefighters, have signed a notice of intent to sue the city if they are fired for not being vaccinated by Tuesday’s deadline. This represents about a quarter of the Department’s 3,700 employees.
And the LA County Sheriff said last week that he. “I don’t want to be able to lose 5%, 10% of my workforce overnight on a vaccination warrant,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at a Facebook Live event.
Shortages in Seattle
Elsewhere on the West Coast, the Seattle Police Department is sending detectives and non-patrol officers to handle emergency calls due to a shortage of patrol officers. The union representing Seattle police officers predicts that staffing issues will worsen as city workers face an Oct. 18 deadline to get their shots. About 200 of the 1,075 active police officers have yet to submit their immunization status, according to Fox News.
The problem is also escalating on the East Coast, including Massachusetts, where about 42,000 state employees face an Oct. 17 deadline to be fully immunized or risk being made redundant.
Considered one of the strictest in the United States because it does not allow workers to undergo regular testing instead of vaccination, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s tenure was welcomed by social service workers but contested by others, including unions representing prison guards and state soldiers.
A federal judge in Worcester is now considering postponing Baker’s tenure by the union for 4,000 state prison guards. A similar legal challenge from the union representing 1,800 state troops was dismissed last month by the Massachusetts Superior Court, according to CBS Boston.
Dozens of soldiers plan to step down following the governor’s edict, but only one has definitely said he will, according to Michael Cherven, president of the State Police Association of Massachusetts. The union said 80% of its members are vaccinated.
The reluctance to be vaccinated extends to federal employees in charge of public safety.
The Transportation Security Administration says four in 10 of its employees – including screening officers – are not vaccinated against COVID-19 as a federal deadline looms. Civilian federal government employees must be fully immunized by November 22, the Monday before Thanksgiving, one of the busiest travel times of the year.
“About 60% of our workforce has been vaccinated; that number is expected to increase a little more over the next few weeks,” TSA administrator David Pekoske told CNN.