Vaccine deadline looming for San Jose police; Mayor says 85% of officers are vaccinated – CBS San Francisco
SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – A veteran San Jose police officer has announced his resignation as the deadline for all city employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 approaches.
The Association of Police Officers said they feared other officers might choose to retire or leave the department during the vaccination tenure.
“First of all, it’s my religious belief. I also believe I was given the choice of what to do with my body, ”said the retired sergeant. David Gutiérrez.
Gutierrez has spent more than a quarter of a century rising through the ranks of the SJPD, working as a homicide detective, internal affairs investigator and patrol supervisor.
He retired in December 2019, but returned as a reserve officer for the department. He says the city’s strict immunization policy does not respect individual rights and people’s health care choices.
“I am not anti-vaccine. I don’t tell people, ‘You shouldn’t understand.’ But when it comes to my body, it’s my choice on what I want to put in my body, ”he said.
The Association of Police Officers estimates that there are around 150 officers who are currently not vaccinated or have not disclosed their immunization status to the city. A spokesperson said some had asked for medical or religious exemptions and others were weighing their options, which could include retirement or resignation.
Mayor Sam Liccardo said city policy has already increased vaccination rates from 82 to 85 percent in the police department since it was first announced.
“It is certainly for the protection of the individual members of our municipal team. But it’s also essential for the safety of our entire community, because of course we know first responders interact with the public every day, ”said the mayor.
Liccardo believes a large exodus of unvaccinated police workers is unlikely.
Gutierrez said that even if many officers ultimately decide to step down, the department will suffer from the loss of their experience and expertise.
“If they fire police officers who have been here for five years, ten years, 15 years, you can hire someone else, but you’re not going to hire that experience,” he said.