The Seattle Police Department could be forced to fire a significant amount of its workforce when the statewide COVID-19 vaccination mandate goes into effect, according to data posted by the department.
A spokesperson for the police department, Anthony Derrick, told The Epoch Times that as of Tuesday, 84 percent of Seattle Police Department staff have submitted their vaccine confirmation forms or have requested an exemption of some kind. That includes 80 percent of officers, he said.
“The Mayor trusts that SPD officers understand the critical importance of vaccinations to protect themselves, their colleagues, and the communities they serve,” Derrick told The Epoch Times, responding to a question about reports last week saying that up to 40 percent of the police force could be fired due to the vaccine mandate.
His remarks came as Mike Solan, the head of the Seattle Police Guild—a union representing officers in the city—told The Epoch Times Tuesday that his organization isn’t sure of the exact numbers of officers who could be terminated on Oct. 18.
“The department has not released any updated numbers since last Wednesday. We are still bargaining this issue and our next session is this coming Thursday,” Solan said.
In another interview, Solan told KIRO that since the so-called Capitol Hill Organized Protest—also known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous zone—where Black Lives Matter protesters and self-described anarchists took over a neighborhood in downtown Seattle last summer, more than 350 officers have left the department. Across the United States, police unions have said they have faced significant criticism and pressure amid calls to defund the police after widespread protests, riots, and violence last year.
“We’re literally politically betrayed by our elected officials. Even, let’s just say we lose 50 cops—even if we just lose one—it’s devastating to how many losses we’ve already incurred,” he remarked.
If numerous officers leave the department, basic services will be delayed, Solan warned.
“I’m not sure how we answer those 911 calls,” Solan said. “This isn’t alarmist, but this is reality here. And many of the people that I represent are just fed up, and this is the last straw with them as they feel that they’ve been targeted for just being cops here in the city, as they think that this mandate has been politicized. And there’s not much more trust in our elected officials anymore.”
Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office hasn’t responded to a request for comment.
“We value each of you, and do not want to lose you as employees,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan told city staff in an email last week about the forthcoming mandate. “But the people that count on you the most are the ones that need you to get vaccinated.”
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, told Fox13 that agencies across the state have backup plans when the mandate goes into effect.
“These are hard-working people,” Inslee said of first responders. “They’re doing good work. We want them to stay on the team.”