UPDATED: Massachusetts State Police say only one trooper retired over vaccine mandate
Only one Massachusetts State Police trooper has left the force because of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate, a State Police spokesperson said in an email to The Boston Globe late Monday.
“The Department has been notified by our HR office of one Trooper who has definitively stated he will retire because of the vaccine mandate,” spokesman David Procopio said in an email to the Globe.
“It is our understanding that other Troopers have indicated they may possibly resign or retire for that reason, but as of [Monday evening] we are aware of only the one.”
The retirement comes after the State Police Association of Massachusetts said dozens of troopers were filing paperwork to resign as a result of the mandate in a statement, adding that some troopers had intentions of moving to departments that offered “reasonable alternatives such as mask wearing and regular testing.”
“We don’t have a true assessment of how many people this is going to affect,” State Police Association President Michael Cherven said to The Hill. “We’re starting to learn of folks submitting letters of intent. They aren’t official resignations until they come in and do the paperwork, but you have to notify them so they can prepare for staffing so we’re seeing those come in, and as of last week, there were several dozen that had submitted those letters.”
In August, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) issued an executive order requiring all executive department employees show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination by Oct. 17.
Last week, a judge ruled that the vaccine mandate would not be delayed despite a request from the State Police Association of Massachusetts.
“We are disappointed in the judge’s ruling; however, we respect her decision,” Cherven said in a statement responding to the ruling. “It is unfortunate that the Governor and his team have chosen to mandate one of the most stringent vaccine mandates in the country with no reasonable alternatives.”
“Just to be clear, this is not an anti-vaccine thing,” Cherven said to The Hill. “Myself, my entire executive board, we’re vaccinated.”
Cherven said he spoke to a young trooper on Sunday in an effort to talk him out of resigning over the mandate.
“I tried to talk him out of it. I told him that I thought he should get the shot, but he just doesn’t want to do it,” Cherven said. “We have to respect his rights. We are an association. We fight for everyone, and we just want a reasonable alternative.”
Cherven added that the State Police were “critically short staffed.”
About 20 percent of State Police employees are not vaccinated, the union’s attorney told a local Boston CBS affiliate station.
CORRECTION: Only one state trooper has left the force over the vaccine mandate in Massachusetts, though the State Police Association of Massachusetts says dozens are filing paperwork to do so. An earlier version included incorrect information.
This story was updated at 3:06 p.m.