Despite claims by the Massachusetts State Police union that “dozens of troopers” have submitted their resignation papers due to a COVID-19 vaccine requirement, a State Police spokesman said late Monday that only one trooper has definitively said he will retire because of the mandate.
“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 e-mail. “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 State Police Association of Massachusetts said Friday that among the troopers who plan to resign, some may return to “other departments offering reasonable alternatives such as mask wearing and regular testing.” The union had issued its Friday statement following a judge’s ruling that blocked its bid to extend Governor Charlie Baker’s Oct. 17 deadline to be vaccinated.
“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,” the statement said.
The union, which represents 1,800 members, has reported that 80 percent of its members are vaccinated, according to court documents.
Baker issued an order on Aug. 19 requiring that all state workers under the governor’s control, including state troopers, be fully vaccinated or claim a personal, medical, or religious exemption by Oct. 17. Those who do not comply could face discipline up to and including termination. It is considered one of the strictest vaccine mandates in the country because it doesn’t allow workers to choose regular testing in lieu of receiving a vaccine.
“I think it’s really 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 [to get vaccinated],” Baker told reporters on Monday. “And those people who are dealing with them ought to be able to believe that they are vaccinated.”
Emma Platoff of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
Nick Stoico can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NickStoico.