More than 40 police staffers in the Australian state of Victoria have been suspended and could lose their jobs after refusing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Victoria Police confirmed that 34 police officers and nine protective services officers didn’t comply with the state’s vaccination order for all “authorised workers,” issued by Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton and Chief Commissioner Shane Patton, the Herald Sun reported.
Those officers have been referred to the Professional Standards Command for failing to follow the chief’s instructions and will face disciplinary action—including potential dismissal.
Currently, they have been suspended and have been directed to take accrued leave. The police union, the Police Association, supports mandatory vaccinations.
The move comes after the deadline passed for all “authorised” workers in Victoria to receive one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, which was Oct. 15. The deadline for the second dose is Nov. 26.
The sweeping edict from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews encompassed a wide range of occupations, including retail workers, personal trainers, journalists, lawyers, actors, and police.
Andrews estimated it would affect 1.25 million individuals in the state.
“This is critically important to keep the case numbers down so that we can open up on Oct. 26, get our freedom back, get the economy going again, and deliver the national plan,” he told reporters on Oct. 1.
The latest move comes after two Victorian police officers resigned publicly from the force after having to enforce the state’s tough government-mandated health restrictions.
“My personal beliefs about what I believe to be right and ethical appear to be at complete odds with the organisation,” Craig Backman, a former senior constable, said in a Facebook post on Oct. 12.
“How can I possibly reconcile myself with working for an organisation that is involved with the enforcement of the removal of human rights?”
While on Oct. 8, former Acting Senior Sergeant Krystle Mitchell, who was on the police force for 16 years, said that while she was happy working for the force every day, “behind that is all of my friends that are police officers, that are working the front line and are suffering every day enforcing [the Victorian chief health officer’s] directions that a vast majority, or certainly a great majority, don’t believe in and don’t want to enforce.”
“The consequences of me being here today is that I will be resigning from Victoria Police, effective at the end of this interview, because the consequences of me coming out publicly would be dismissal,” she told the Discernable media studio.
Victoria’s capital, Melbourne, has broken the world record for the city enduring the most days under lockdown, eclipsing the previous record of 245 days held by Buenos Aires on Oct. 3.
AAP contributed to this report.