SAN DIEGO — Tuesday marks the last day for unvaccinated San Diego police officers to either get vaccinated or lose their jobs.
With the mandate ratified by the city council Monday for all city workers to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, at least a few hundred officers, out of the 1,950 sworn officers, are making a life-altering decision.
“There are people that are absolutely not going to do it, and I get that, and they are making arrangements,” said Jack Schaeffer, the president of the San Diego Police Union. “There are others that still aren’t totally sure and then there are some that are like, ‘I’ll eventually just end up getting it I guess.’”
Anti-vaccination activists have said as many as 700 officers might leave the San Diego Police Department, but Shaeffer says the number is likely far lower. He believes the number will be significant.
“It’ll take us a decade to bounce back from 100 people leaving,” Shaeffer said.
The City of San Diego is also preparing for staffing shortages and gearing up to hire people as fast as possible.
“Let’s recruit, great, but it also takes a while to train and a lot of personnel to train the new officers to come up, so I don’t know how much we can do at one point,” Shaeffer said.
Another concern is the officer burnout rate if overtime becomes mandatory.
“It’s not only me, it’s the person covering me,” Shaeffer said. “Are they working a crazy amount of hours because there’s just a need out there? All that fatigue factor.”
The police union president says after the city spends close to $200,000 in training an officer. He believes the city will make exceptions for some officers as deadlines pass.
“I think that as long as they are going with the program, I think that they’ll give latitude there,” Shaeffer said.