State employees across Massachusetts will soon face repercussions — potentially even termination — for violating a strict vaccine mandate.
A number of state police troopers, however, have balked at the requirement, and dozens are reportedly thinking about resigning from the force as a result.
“No reasonable alternatives”
According to WBZ, the revelation came from the labor union representing the troopers. About 20% of the agency’s officers are believed to be unvaccinated.
A court ruling last week rejected a requested extension or hold ahead of an Oct. 17 deadline for compliance with the vaccine requirement.
State Police Association of Massachusetts President Michael Cherven addressed the issue in a statement that expressed his “disappointment” in the judge’s ruling.
“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,” he argued.
Cherven went on to note that state troopers “have been on the front lines protecting the citizens of Massachusetts and beyond” and are now asking for “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.”
“Returned them to uniformed patrol”
So far, dozens of troopers have already started the resignation process, he said, with some expressing an interest in moving to a different agency with less severe vaccine policies.
“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,” Cherven added.
Despite his reference to “dozens” of officers, CBS News cited a department spokesperson who said only one trooper has officially resigned over the vaccine mandate.
“As of this morning, the Department has been notified by our human resources office of one Trooper who has definitively stated he will retire because of the vaccine mandate,” said MSP spokesman Dave Procopio. “It is our understanding that other Troopers are considering resigning or retiring for that reason, but as of right now we are aware of only the one who has definitively said he will go.”
Republican Gov. Charlie Baker issued an executive order last month mandating that all state workers under his control be vaccinated by Oct. 19. He defended that order this week, stating: “I think it’s really important for public officials who deal directly with the public on a regular basis, who have no idea whether the people they’re dealing with are vaccinated or not [to get vaccinated]. And those people who are dealing with them ought to be able to believe that they are vaccinated.”