BOSTON (CBS) – The State Police Association of Massachusetts (SPAM) said dozens of troopers have submitted their resignation papers as a result of the state's COVID vaccine mandate.
The state is requiring all executive department employees to show proof of vaccination by October 17, or risk losing their jobs.
About 20% of State Police employees are not vaccinated, according to the union's attorney.
A source told WBZ-TV on Monday that only one state trooper has told human resources that they would resign because of the vaccine mandate. The source also said there are others who spoke with HR to evaluate what their pensions would be if they chose to retire.
Last week, a judge denied a request from the State Police union to put a hold on Gov. Charlie Baker's vaccine mandate for troopers.
The union released this statement following the judge's decision:
Throughout COVID, we have been on the front lines protecting the citizens of Massachusetts and beyond. Simply put, all we are asking for are 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.
To date, 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 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.
The union, which represents 1,800 members, argued that the state needed to bargain with workers before implementing the mandate.
Union president Sgt. Michael Cherven said some of the troopers he represents may be recruited away from Massachusetts State Police if the mandate does not include some accommodations.
"They have opportunities to return to the municipal departments they came from. There are opportunities outside of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New Jersey state police associations have reached out," Cherven said.
State Police are already facing a staffing shortage for several reasons, according to WBZ security analyst Ed Davis.
"COVID is certainly one of them. There's also the situation that occurred across the country after the George Floyd murder. Police are rethinking whether they want to stay in the business," Davis said.
Baker told reporters Monday that he has no intention to budge on the mandate and he has faith that compliance will be high.
"I think it's critically important for public officials who deal directly with the public on a regular basis, who have no idea whether the people their dealing with are vaccinated or not. And those people who are dealing with them ought to believe that they are vaccinated," Baker said.
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