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State Trooper fired for failing to comply with vaccine mandate for state employees, union says

State Police trainees at a graduation ceremony in October.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

A Massachusetts State Trooper was fired last week for failing to comply with the state’s vaccine mandate, according to the trooper’s union.

He was the first state trooper to be fired under the vaccine mandate, the State Police Association of Massachusetts said in a statement. The mandate, which applies to some 42,000 executive branch employees, required state employees to show proof of their vaccine status or seek a religious or medical exemption by Oct. 17.

“Unfortunately this is the first of many,” the State Police Association of Massachusetts wrote in the statement. A State Police spokesman declined to comment.

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The union said the fired trooper was in his third year with the State Police after having worked at a local department for five years. He was assigned to the Mounted Unit — where troopers patrol state parks and beaches by horseback and aid with crowd control at large events.

The news is the first word on firings under the mandate since late October, when Governor Charlie Baker’s office said that more than 500 Massachusetts state employees had been suspended, resigned, or, in some cases, terminated for not complying with the mandate.

At the time, 362 state employees were serving five- or 10-day suspensions for not complying with Baker’s order and another 141 had left state government, of whom 11 were terminated, Baker’s office said.

The mandate is one of the strictest in the country as it does not allow for employees to refuse the vaccine and opt for regular COVID-19 testing instead.

On Monday, a spokesman for Baker’s office said “the Administration will have an update on these numbers soon, but not today.”

He said vaccine compliance among State Police is “well over 90 [percent].”

The Baker administration has previously said the requirement may eventually include a booster shot.

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SPAM’s president, Sergeant Michael Cherven, said in mid-October that 299 troopers were unvaccinated — 200 of whom have sought a medical or religious exemption, according to data he said the department provided the union. The vast majority of those requests — 186 — were for religious reasons, he said.

SPAM filed a lawsuit in September asking a judge to put the vaccination requirement on hold to give the troopers’ union time to bargain and “negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment.” A Suffolk Superior Court Judge rejected the motion a week later.

“We will continue to look at all legal options and work with our members to ensure their rights are protected,” SPAM’s statement said.

Boston’s former acting mayor, Kim Janey, announced a similar mandate for the city’s 18,000 workers in August, but allowed workers to opt-in to regular COVID-19 testing instead of getting the shot. The city earlier this month said that 23 workers had been suspended for non-compliance.

Newly elected Boston Mayor Michelle Wu doubled down on that mandate last week, eliminating the option for city employees to be regularly tested instead of vaccinated. The new mandate kicks in Jan. 15.


Andrew Brinker can be reached at andrew.brinker@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @andrewnbrinker.