‘It’s a hot topic amongst our membership’: Local police union pushing back on vaccine mandate

Coronavirus

SAN DIEGO — Police officers are one of many agencies that have been given a mandate to get their vaccines in San Diego after the announcement two weeks ago from city officials, but one local police union is pushing back and wanting more options.

Roughly nine out of 10 members of the San Diego Police Officers Association who responded to a recent survey oppose COVID-19 vaccination mandates, and about 45% of them say they would rather be fired than comply with such requirements, the head of the SDPOA confirmed Friday. According to city data released in August, about 50% of San Diego Police Department officers have already been vaccinated while 65% of the city’s 11,360 employees were confirmed as being fully vaccinated.

“It’s a hot topic amongst our membership,” said Det. Jack Schaeffer, president of the Police Officers Association.

And those that responded, didn’t send a mix message.

“90% of officers who took the survey say they are opposed to a vaccine mandate,” said David Hernandez, a public safety reporter at San Diego Union Tribune.

Hernandez, who broke the story, says the numbers show a startling descension between the officers and city health orders.

Of the 733 officers who took part in the poll — about 38% of all the personnel represented by the union — some 65% said they would consider resigning from their jobs if the city follows through with a plan to require coronavirus inoculation beginning in November.

In negotiations with the city, the police union has taken a stand against mandatory COVID vaccinations. The SDPOA’s leaders “want options,” such as regular coronavirus testing, in lieu of obligatory inoculation, Schaeffer said.

Schaeffer says he is listening to members and trying to retain his officers.

“If I’m somebody who absolutely for whatever reason doesn’t want to have a vaccine and the place next door says, ‘You’re good over here.’ That might be what pushes me out the door,” he said. “We’re hopeful we are going to find some kind of compromise.”

Shaeffer says while he personally is vaccinated, his goal is simply keeping the personnel gains SDPD has made in the past few years.

“Legally you look at case law and all the at stuff,” he said. “We don’t have much of an argument in that sense. What we do have an argument is let’s compare ourselves to other places and how they are trying to respond to this.”

City News Service contributed to this report.

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