Dozens of Massachusetts state troopers are resigning due to Gov. Charlie Baker’s executive order demanding proof of a COVID-19 vaccination for all state employees by October 17.
“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,” State Police Association of Massachusetts (SPAM) President Michael Cherven wrote in a statement Monday. “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,” his statement continued. “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, arsons, gangs, narcotics, and human trafficking, and returned them to uniformed patrol.”
The union leader’s statement comes after a judge denied the group’s request to push back the vaccine mandate deadline. Cherven said the union was “disappointed in the judge’s ruling; however, we respect her decision.”
According to CBS 4, around 20 percent of State Police employees have yet to take the COVID-19 vaccine, said an attorney for the union, which represents 1,800 members.
State law enforcement agencies are already wrestling with staffing shortages due to a number of reasons, including the government response to COVID-19 and the anti-police riots that raged across the United States throughout 2020.
“COVID is certainly one of them. There’s also the situation that occurred across the country after the George Floyd murder. Police are rethinking whether they want to stay in the business,” WBZ security analyst Ed Davis said.
Gov. Baker said this week that he does not intend to relax the mandate and anticipates compliance will be high.
“I think it’s critically important for public officials who deal directly with the public on a regular basis, who have no idea whether the people their dealing with are vaccinated or not. And those people who are dealing with them ought to believe that they are vaccinated,” Baker said.
Also in the Northeastern United States, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Monday that she would deploy the National Guard to support New York healthcare facilities in the event that a worker shortage occurs after the COVID-19 vaccine mandate kicks in for all hospitals Monday night.