SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- The deadline for San Francisco's first responders to show proof of vaccination has come and gone, but on Thursday it appeared the mandate has drastically improved the latest vaccination numbers among city employees and police officers.
The majority of police officers are vaccinated and the numbers continue to climb even after the Oct. 13th deadline. A police source had placed the number of holdouts at 120 as of Wednesday.
Early Wednesday evening, KPIX 5 learned some San Francisco police officers will get more time to become fully vaccinated. Those currently in between their first and second shots will now have until November 12th to fulfill the requirement.
By late Thursday afternoon, the number of SFPD officers who are still unvaccinated had dropped to 76. Those officers will now be placed on paid administrative leave while waiting for hearings for their individual cases. They will not be allowed to interact with the public on the streets.
Despite the latest figures, the head of the San Francisco Police Officers' Association is still saying response times will be negatively impacted.
The uncertainty that remains is what happens to those who still refuse.
"The concern is if we don't have the visibility or the staffing on the streets, it could impact the crime level," said San Francisco Police Officers' Association Tony Montoya.
Wednesday night, San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott addressed the dozens of officers who were still holding out.
"Those employees will be sent to the commission for a non-disciplinary hearing for release from employment," said Scott.
If an officer without a medical or religious exemption is eventually terminated for not getting vaccinated, one lawyer KPIX talked to said any future legal battle against the city appears unfavorable for those refusing to get a shot.
"My recommendation would be not to push this issue with the employer. I don't think they're on the strong side," said labor attorney Bob Eassa of Duane Morris, LLP. "When you're dealing with the general good will of the public health, for an individual to step back and say my personal belief should trump the public need to be safe in a public area I think that's just a very difficult battle."
Nearly 200 officers applied for medical or religious exemptions, but it's unclear how many have been approved by the city.
The SFPOA wanted a testing option instead of mandated vaccines. The police union says many religious and medical exemptions its officers applied for weren't handled in a timely manner.
"It's left my members in a fog and left them with a sense of betrayal almost," said Montoya.
The SFPD was facing a shortage in the hundreds even before the citywide mandate. The dozens of officers now facing possible termination could add to that shortage.
SFPD already initiated redeployment plans a couple weeks ago. Scott says the department has the resources necessary to ensure the public's safety.
for more features.