Fired cops sue over COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Washington state


The state of Washington fired more than 70 state officers this week after they refused to follow Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee’s order requiring them to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The 74 officers, including 67 troopers, six sergeants, and one captain, were among 127 total employees who were let go, which is about 5% of the total staff for the Washington State Patrol. 

WSP Chief John R. Batiste said “we will miss every one of them.” He added that while officials work to determine the immediate impact of the resignations, the agency will move resources and personnel if necessary to fill the gaps.

In a message to employees, Chief Batiste said “COVID is a killer and the state is taking action intended to improve public safety. I thank you for staying on post and staying in service to this state and agency.”

Meanwhile, the leader of Chicago’s largest police union is warning that another mass exodus of police may be coming due to a similar vaccine mandate imposed by Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

John Cantanzara, president of the Chicago FOP Lodge #7, said in a video uploaded last Thursday — one day before the mandate took effect — that he thinks about 50% of the Chicago Police Department’s officers would defy it.

“That is not because of the FOP — that is 100% because of the mayor’s unwillingness to budge from her hard line,” he said.

The union leader also urged officers to skirt the mandate, saying he does “not believe the city has the authority to mandate that to anybody, let alone that information about your medical history and change the terms of employment, so to speak, on the fly.”

Within hours of posting the video, the mayor filed a complaint and accused the union leader of encouraging an unlawful strike or work stoppage. 

Mr. Cantanzara rejected the claims in another video and called the complaint a “silly motion,” but a federal judge sided with the mayor on Monday and granted an injunction barring him from making public comments encouraging officers to ignore the mandate.

The vaccine mandate went into effect at midnight last Friday and officers who do not comply may face an unpaid suspension or termination. They can also opt to take tests twice a week, on their own dime and their own time, but only until Dec. 31.

The most recent city statistics as of Monday show 8,227 of CPD’s 12,770 police employees have reported their vaccination status, which is 64%.

Ms. Lightfoot said during a news conference on Monday that the union’s pushback on the mandate threatens the “legitimacy of local policing.” Officers who refuse to fall in line should leave CPD, she said.

“We’re not having that,” Ms. Lightfoot said. “If that’s the police department they want to be in, they should walk to another police department.”

Meanwhile, the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York said Wednesday that it is planning to file a lawsuit over Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio’s new vaccine mandate.

“From the beginning of the de Blasio administration’s haphazard vaccine rollout, we have fought to make the vaccine available to every member who chooses it, while also protecting their right to make that personal medical decision in consultation with their own doctor,” the association said.

Because the city has now imposed a mandate, the association said it will bring legal action “to protect our members’ rights.”

The mandate requires all city employees to be vaccinated against the virus by Oct. 29. It does not include an option for weekly testing. Those who do not comply will be put on unpaid leave and the city will negotiate with unions to determine their future employment status.

Mr. de Blasio said on Wednesday that “we’re not firing people on the spot, we’re saying in plans we came up with other unions, we said, ‘Please get vaccinated by the deadline. If you do, you continue with your work. If you don’t, you’re going to leave without pay.’”

The Washington Times sent a request for comment on Wednesday to Mr. Inslee.

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