Seattle Police Likely To Defund Themselves Over Vaccine Mandate
Time is running out for Seattle police to provide proof of vaccination so they can keep their cushy jobs. Mayor Jenny Durkan announced in August that all city employees would be required to vaccinate themselves against COVID-19. The deadline is October 18, a week from today, so it's too late to meet the requirement with the two-dose Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. However, they could still get the less-effective but one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot, but they probably won't. This isn't about procrastination.
As of October 5, a reported 38 percent of police operations staff hadn't submitted proof of COVID-19 vaccination. That includes 33 percent of police officers. It's a stark but not necessarily shocking contrast to the 81 percent of eligible King County residents who are fully vaccinated.
The overwhelming majority of city employees have complied with Durkan's order, which ensures there's a functioning city left to employ them. But cops are, generally speaking, entitled babies who don't believe the rules apply to them.
So far, according to a Seattle Police Department spokesperson, 111 officers have requested religious or medical exemptions. They apparently all joined some kooky death cult after meeting the normal vaccination requirements to attend public schools. Seattle and Portland, Oregon, both tied a few years ago as the least religious city in America, so this seems more like political resistance than anything else. True, most Seattle police don't live in Seattle (and they could actually afford it!), but 70 percent of all eligible Washington state residents are fully vaccinated. They're out of step with the state as a whole.
However, even if these cops legitimately worship the god of respiratory diseases, Durkan is standing firm about protecting the public from a Typhoid Mary police squad, no matter how devout.
"If there is a valid religious or medical exemption, then we have an obligation to determine whether we can accommodate them with other jobs that will not put them in that position where they could expose others," she says. "And if we can't, then they will not be able to continue in their employment."
The police are sure to pout because Durkan is prioritizing the public good over whatever it is these anti-vax cops are doing. Durkan bent over backwards to appease them last year when they were crying “don't defund us, even during a pandemic!" She's now effectively paying them to stay alive: All city employees who show proof of vaccination are eligible for an additional 40 hours of paid leave for COVID-19-related needs. That's on top of the existing 40 hours of supplementary pandemic leave.
"I really wanted to provide, to all city employees, uniform benefits for the work that they have done — showing up every day during this pandemic — and also to incentivize people [to get vaccinated]," Durkan says.
Durkan has presumably met cops, so she should know they'd want the incentives and perks without any personal obligation. They're not into Spider-Man's whole “power and responsibility" kick. It's also a good bet that rightwing media will blame any corresponding rise in Seattle's violent crime rates on the vaccine mandate instead of anti-vax cops not fully comprehending the concept “protect and serve."
Fox 13 in Seattle writes that the police department is “bracing" for mass firings, as if the cops have no control over this situation. An especially whiny cop said:
The environment has been pretty toxic and negative. Not just from this whole mandate, but prior to that as well. I'm not sure this would be a good place for me to work long-term for my mental health. It has been very stressful.
Wow! Police work is stressful. Someone should've mentioned that to him before he applied. It's unclear why anyone this emotionally fragile was given a gun.
The New York Post article about the Seattle vaccine mandate contained this insulting bit of copaganda:
The Seattle Police Department has already lost more than 300 officers since Black Lives Matters riots and the "defund the police" movement roiled the city in 2020, putting officers in the crosshairs of political and public ire.
The article literally doesn't contain the name “George Floyd," whom a former Minneapolis cop murdered while other cops watched. This is what led to overwhelmingly peaceful protests. (There was a far smaller percentage of “riots" than there are vaccine holdouts in the Seattle police department.) And to the extent that there's even a “defund the police" movement, that was in reaction to years of hashtags for Black victims of police violence without any meaningful reforms.
Durkan is still optimistic that most cops will come around and get vaccinated, but if they don't, she says that's their choice, for which there's a stated consequence. However, that implies that cops are capable of an emotional maturity they've yet to collectively demonstrate. They'll just continue playing the victim.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."