Sunday, December 5, 2021
Dec. 5, 2021

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Seattle police use emergency staffing

300 officers face losing jobs if they don’t get COVID vaccine by Mon.

The Columbian

SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle’s police department is sending detectives and nonpatrol officers to respond to emergency calls because of a shortage of patrol officers.

The department on Wednesday moved to the emergency officer dispatching scenario because of the staffing crunch. The police union leader said he fears things will get worse because of COVID-19 vaccine mandates but the city’s mayor urged the small percentage of holdouts to get the shot, noting officers are already required to show proof of other vaccines.

KOMO reported the department has lost more than 300 officers over the past year. Nearly 300 more could face termination if they do not comply with an Oct. 18 deadline to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

“We can’t afford to lose one, that’s how desperate we are to hold onto to people,” said police union president Mike Solan. “If we lose more officers, the public safety situation will become that much more untenable here.”

According to figures from the Seattle mayor’s office, 782 officers have submitted proof of COVID-19 vaccination, while 98 officers are seeking exemptions and 186 have not turned in paperwork.

Officials hope more will submit the required paperwork as the deadline approaches.

Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office said Seattle police, first responders, and health care workers across the state are required by Gov. Jay Inslee to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

“The definition of a police officer’s job is to maintain public safety and protect the communities they serve — 88 percent of our Seattle Police Department staff have been vaccinated, so they can continue to do their heroic work to save lives,” Durkan’s spokesman, Anthony Derrick, said in a statement.

The statement said COVID-19 was the No. 1 cause of death for the first responders during the pandemic.