Update: This article has been updated to include the Denver judge’s ruling on the police lawsuit.
Police across the country are filing lawsuits, requesting exemptions and considering quitting or getting fired over their opposition to coronavirus vaccine mandates.
Nearly 200 San Francisco police officers have applied for religious exemptions to avoid a required inoculation by Oct. 13 or risk being fired.
A survey last month of 733 members of the San Diego Police Officers Association showed about 91% (667) do not believe vaccines should be mandated and 45% (333) said they would rather be fired than comply with a vaccine mandate.
Seven Denver police officers recently filed a lawsuit arguing that it is unlawful to order city employees to be vaccinated or face termination. The city imposed a Sept. 30 deadline for all municipal employees to be vaccinated.
“During the pandemic each of these plaintiffs loyally worked the front lines, yet now, they are precipitously placed on the edge of unemployment,” the lawsuit said.
The complaint, filed in Denver District Court, said hundreds of city police officers asked to be included in the litigation and many of them were considering resigning over the mandate.
“Undoubtedly, the public would be adversely affected by a sudden mass migration of police officers,” the lawsuit states.
The complaint said Mayor Michael B. Hancock and Denver Public Health Director Robert McDonald had no legal authority to issue the order in August and that Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen had no legal authority to enforce it.
District Court Judge Shelley Gilman dismissed the lawsuit before the vaccine mandate went into effect.
Mr. Hancock told Fox31 in Colorado before the judge ruled that he is proud of the 92% of city employees, about 1,400, who have submitted proof of vaccination, but he finds “it selfish folks would file an injunction one week out maybe enticing other employees to follow and wait for them in what the court says.”
In Gainesville, Florida, a judge ruled last week in favor of more than 200 city employees, including police officers, who sued over a local vaccine mandate.
Eighth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Monica J. Brasington temporarily blocked the order. She said the city did not provide any evidence that the mandate serves “a compelling interest through the least restrictive means.” If the city submits evidence, however, the judge could issue a new ruling.
In the lawsuit, the employees argue that many of them have natural immunity after recovering from COVID-19 and they want “less intrusive alternatives to coerced vaccination.”
“They are now goats; scapegoats of failed city policy, scapegoats for failed political leaders and federal policies,” the lawsuit states. “In its mad rush to solve an intractable problem not of the plaintiff’s making, the city has conceived an odious scheme to coerce the plaintiffs into taking unwanted and unnecessary COVID vaccines.”
Charles Wilson, chairman of the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, said the vaccine mandate is protective.
“Just as with face masks, they are meant to ensure that people, including law enforcement officers, are provided an extra layer of safety from what must be considered a deadly pandemic,” Mr. Wilson said. “Bottom line – wear the mask, get the shot. Protect you, me and everyone you come in contact with.”
A report this month by a national police organization shows COVID-19 was the leading cause of law enforcement deaths in the first six months of this year.
Preliminary data published by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund shows 71 officers died after contracting COVID-19 while on the job in the first half of 2021 — more than a third of the 155 line-of-duty deaths recorded.
More officers reportedly died from COVID-19 than the next two leading causes combined: traffic (38) and firearms (28).
The memorial fund says it believes many more officers will be killed by the “invisible nemesis.”