Seattle, WA – Multiple Seattle police officers were flying Gadsden flags from their patrol vehicles in the final hours before Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s COVID vaccine mandate went into effect as 127 Washington State Patrol employees lost their jobs.
The City of Seattle also adopted a mandate imposed by Inslee which required all healthcare workers and state employees to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18 if they want to keep their jobs, KING reported.
Employees needed to have received the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine or their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine by Oct. 4 to qualify as being fully vaccinated by Monday’s deadline.
According to Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) President Mike Sloan, SPD officers who failed to submit proof of vaccination by Monday will be given an opportunity to publicly state why they refused to comply with the governor’s order during a hearing before they’re formally fired, FOX News reported.
KTTH reporter Jason Rantz posted photos to Twitter showing Gadsden flags hanging from SPD vehicles.
“Officers took these photos in protest of the mandate,” Rantz wrote.
“Some officers plan on taking time off to decide what they will do long term. They don’t seem eager to stay with SPD,” he said. “Others explained that they are going to leave the SPD by the end of the year as a result of this.”
Washington State Patrol (WSP) Trooper Robert LaMay blasted Inslee and his mandate as he signed off on the radio for the final time on Sunday, concluding his 22-year WSP career, video footage showed.
“This is my final signoff,” Trooper LaMay said. “After 22 years of serving the citizens of the state of Washington, I’m being asked to leave… I’d like to thank the citizens of Yakima County as well as my fellow officers within the valley. Without you guys I wouldn’t have been very successful and you’ve kept me safe and you got me home to my family every night. Thank you for that.”
“This is the last time you’ll hear me in a state patrol car,” the veteran trooper concluded. “Jay Inslee can kiss my -ss.”
His wife, Celina Thompson, is a dispatcher based out of Clark County.
After 15 years of service, she is also being fired due to the vaccine mandate, KTTH reported.
127 Washington State Patrol employees lost their job Monday to the mandate, including 74 commissioned troopers, according to KIRO.
According to the most recent numbers released by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office, 186 SPD officers had still not provided proof of vaccination and 98 more were seeking exemptions as of Friday, KOMO reported.
A total of 782 officers had submitted proof of their vaccination status.
Sending detectives and non-patrol units to 911 calls as first responders is referred to as “Stage 3” operations within the SPD, according to KOMO.
The agency moved into Stage 3 operations on Wednesday, which the SPOG described as an “unprecedented move.”
That means any on-duty sworn SPD employee can be dispatched to a call – even education and training employees or those who haven’t been on patrol in years, according to KING.
Over 300 officers have left the SPD in the past year, KOMO reported.
Hundreds of additional officers could be fired on Oct. 18 if they refuse to comply with the city’s mandatory vaccine order.
“We can’t afford to lose one, that’s how desperate we are to hold onto to people,” Sloan told KOMO. “If we lose more officers the public safety situation will become that much more untenable here.”
Chief Diaz sent out a letter to SPD staff about the vaccine mandate on Oct. 1, imploring them to “get it done.”
“At the moment – we have to assume we have hundreds of unvaccinated individuals based on the information submitted. This could create a disruption to unit of assignments,” the chief wrote. “Please submit your proof of vaccination – or please go get the vaccine and then submit the proof of vaccination.”
Chief Diaz reminded his officers that Oct. 4 would be the last day to receive the vaccine in order to qualify for the Oct. 18 “vaccine mandate deadline.”
The SPD had 1,157 fully-trained, sworn officers as of August, according to The Seattle Times.
But 108 of those officers were on disability or leave, leaving the number of officers available to respond to calls at just 1,049.
“How can this city afford more officers leaving at a time when we already have extremely long priority one from police to somebody’s call for desperate help?” Sloan asked. “To me it’s unreasonable.”
Durkan’s spokesperson, Anthony Derrick, said the SPD will have to make do with the officers they have left after the Oct. 18 deadline.
“Mayor Durkan sincerely hopes that anyone at risk of leaving the City or at departments statewide will make the decision to stay by getting vaccinated,” Derrick told the Associated Press.
“The definition of a police officer’s job is to maintain public safety and protect the communities they serve,” he added. “Eighty-eight percent of our Seattle Police Department staff have been vaccinated, so they can continue to do their heroic work to save lives.”