Seattle’s police department is already woefully understaffed, but Gov. Jay Inslee’s vaccine mandate, along with similar mandates issued by King County’s executive and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan could make things a whole lot worse. Police, firefighters, and other city employees have until October 18th to get vaccinated or risk losing their job, but the mandates aren’t sitting well with many officers.
In fact, Mike Solan, who heads up the Seattle Police Officers Guild, says he believes that not only will the city be losing a fair number of officers who refuse to get vaccinated, but others who are prepared to walk away in solidarity.
“This is about just saving jobs, period,” Solan told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Show. “We’ve had many conversations ever since the CHAZ/CHOP, we’ve lost close to 350 cops because 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.”
This comes at a time when Seattle is seeing an increase in gun violence, Solan notes, and says there won’t be many officers left if the SPD loses the amount of people that has been highlighted in recent media stories.
“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.”
I’m guessing gun sales are going to be brisk in the Seattle area over the next week or so, as some residents prepare to protect themselves in case Solan’s prediction comes to pass. Of course, given the chaos and rising crime in Seattle over the past 18 months or so, many Seattle residents have already embraced their Second Amendment rights.
As for the officers who are ready to walk away from the force in the face of vaccine mandates, the head of the Seattle police union says the issue has become so politicized that some officers are simply fed up.
From Solan’s standpoint, the officers that would leave are a combination of people who don’t want to get vaccinated either for medical, religious, or other reasons, but also some who are taking a political stand. It could even include officers who are vaccinated but who would leave their job to stand with their fellow officers who aren’t vaccinated.
“In our opinion, it’s not about vaccinated versus the unvaccinated,” Solan said. “The politics of this is simply standing in the breach to block against any form of segregation.”
Solan says for 18 months, SPD has responded to calls with masks and social distancing whenever possible. He also notes that they were discouraged from getting vaccinated when it was voluntary as firefighters were in the first tier, and police were second.
… Solan says he’s heard that a number of union members are just fed up, and he says they’re “sick of the segregation, the divisiveness in our society, and just the political betrayal from our elected officials.”
“This is an accumulation of all of that sentiment,” he said. “And I think it’s coming to a crescendo in this next week.”
There’ve been rumors that as many as 200 officers will refuse to get vaccinated, though Solan says he thinks it will end up being far less. Still, given the current shortfall of officers, Solan’s right that any further reductions will be felt by the general public in terms of response times and police presence in high-crime neighborhoods. It looks like the mandates laid out by state and local officials in the name of public health will have a negative impact on public safety, but don’t expect Gov. Inslee or Mayor Durkan to back off before the deadline. Democrats across the country are doubling down on their vaccine mandates, and there’s no way the pair would be willing to suffer the loss of face and criticism from their own side if they rescinded their orders.
So by this time next week, Seattle’s police force may very well have shrunk by a considerable margin. The city won’t be any safer as a result, but to be honest I’m not sure that’s been a big consideration for Seattle politicians for awhile now.