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The president of the State Police Association of Massachusetts says dozens of troopers have submitted their resignations because they do not agree with the state's COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
An attorney for the union, which represents 1,800 officers, said 20 percent of state police employees are unvaccinated. Union president Michael Cherven said in a statement that many of the departing troopers "plan to return to other departments offering reasonable alternatives such as mask wearing and regular testing." The Massachusetts State Police is "already critically short-staffed," he added, and it's "unfortunate" that Gov. Charlie Baker (R) chose to "mandate one of the most stringent vaccine mandates in the country with no reasonable alternatives."
Under the mandate, starting Oct. 17, all executive department employees — which includes state troopers — must show proof of vaccination. If they don't get vaccinated, they could be "subject to disciplinary action" and terminated, CBS News reports. The union tried to win a hold on the mandate, arguing that the state should have bargained with workers before implementing it, but a judge rejected the request last week.
In Massachusetts, more than 74 percent of residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. Baker told reporters on Monday the mandate will keep everyone safe. "I think it's critically important for public officials who deal directly with the public on a regular basis, who have no idea whether the people they're dealing with are vaccinated or not," he said. "And those people who are dealing with them ought to believe that they are vaccinated."