The State Police Association of Massachusetts said dozens of troopers are planning to leave their jobs after a judge on Thursday denied a request to delay Gov. Charlie Baker’s state employee COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
“We are disappointed in the judge’s ruling; however, we respect her decision. 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,” SPAM President Michael Cherven said in a statement.
As a result of Judge Jackie Cowin’s decision, “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 union wrote.
The union is also seeking to have COVID-19 infections listed as a line-of-duty injury.
The move comes as vaccination efforts targeting first responders are put under a microscope as more agencies see mandates and surges of cases.
In Los Angeles, public health officials have identified more than 200 coronavirus outbreaks at police or fire agencies throughout the county since the start of the pandemic, according to data obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
The 211 outbreaks, accounting for more than 2,500 cases between March 2020 and last month, represent 9% of total workplace outbreaks across the county, the newspaper reported Sunday. Outbreaks have occurred regularly even as vaccination rates increased among police and fire personnel and the number of individual coronavirus cases per outbreak has fallen since last winter.
The data showed 38 outbreaks at public safety agencies were identified in April 2021 — the most in any month since the start of the pandemic. A month later, 35 outbreaks — the second most — were recorded by the county Department of Public Health.
Vaccination rates for Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles Fire Department employees generally lag behind the 68% of eligible county residents who have gotten their shots.
Critics have accused the police officers and city firefighters of ignoring public safety — and their sworn duties to uphold it — by refusing to get vaccinated.