Local law enforcement agencies that do not require or prosecute any COVID-19 vaccinations of employees

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Law enforcement agencies in Inland Northwest don’t need COVID-19 vaccines or keep track of how many of their officers have received the syringe, despite local hospitals being overwhelmed with increasing hospitalizations and deaths among unvaccinated people.

State and Washington employees must receive the injection or apply for an exemption, but neither Spokane nor Spokane County have an employee mandate. Law enforcement agencies cite this decision as the reason they don’t order the shot.

Police unions have raised concerns that vaccine mandates in other parts of the state will result in their officials being transferred or resigned. The city of Seattle mandated vaccines for its employees earlier this summer, which the Seattle Police Officers Guild said crosscut could lead to a “mass exodus” of officials who refuse.

President Joe Biden announced last week that companies with more than 100 employees will have their employees vaccinated or face fines, but it is unclear whether this applies to local governments.

The city of Spokane is asking the labor protection agency to clarify whether it falls under the new rules, said city spokesman Brian Coddington.

City officials are currently being asked to confirm to the city’s human resources department that they have been vaccinated, he said. The number of city workers who say they are vaccinated is not available, Coddington said, because they do not aggregate the data.

Spokane police also do not require vaccinations from officials or employees, but do follow state guidelines on masking and quarantining employees who have contracted or been exposed to the virus, department spokeswoman Julie Humphreys said.

Chief Craig Meidl declined to comment on his personal vaccination status, Humphreys said.

Spokane County also does not require its employees to be vaccinated. Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said he is vehemently against vaccine mandates, which he believes are preventing people from getting the injection.

“We shouldn’t give mandates,” said Knezovich. “We should be leaders”

The guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Governor Jay Inslee have been confusing, Knezovich said, causing frustration and lack of confidence. He specifically cited the CDC’s decision not to recommend masking indoors, only to reverse that decision a few months later after the new, more contagious Delta variant quickly spread across the United States.

Getting shamed for vaccination status is a huge deterrent for people, Knezovich said. He believes vaccination status shouldn’t be something people should publicly share.

Despite this belief, Knezovich shared his decision to get vaccinated in hopes of encouraging others to follow suit.

Knezovich said he contracted COVID-19 earlier this year and had no severe symptoms. Around the same time, his daughter contracted the virus and had serious complications, he said, showing him firsthand how dangerous the disease can be. He chose the vaccine after doing his own research, mostly from medical studies in Israel, he said.

More people would choose to be vaccinated if given accurate information about the vaccine by local guides rather than being forced by mandate, he said. Earlier this month, Knezovich sat down with Interim Health Officer Dr. Francisco Velazquez to discuss the pandemic and vaccines in a YouTube video posted by Spokane Talks. He plans to continue the public relations work in the coming weeks, he added.

Liberty Lake Police are equivalent to the city and do not require officers to be vaccinated, Chief Damon Simmons said.

Mandates and Exceptions

Unlike local authorities, Washington State Patrol soldiers are tasked with procuring the vaccine or making an exemption request.

By the beginning of this week, almost 400 employees had submitted exemptions; of these, 373 were religious and 22 medical, said Chris Loftis, WSP communications director.

According to data released by the state, as of September 6, 47% of WSP’s 2,223 employees had been vaccinated. Government workers must be fully vaccinated by October 18, and about 8% of those workers have made exemptions.

Once those requests are approved, WSP will begin looking for accommodations, such as teleworking, that will allow employees to continue their roles, Loftis said.

If shelter cannot be found, employees can be laid off, he said. Losing soldiers would be difficult for the already understaffed agency, he said.

“We want to get through this and the vaccine seems like the fastest way for us,” Loftis said. “We want everyone to be vaccinated. We want to be done with COVID. “

The Department of Corrections, which also falls under the state mandate, has vaccination rates similar to WSP.

At the Airway Heights correctional facility, 46% of employees were vaccinated earlier this month. Of the almost 700 employees at the facility, 47 applied for a special permit, 36 of whom were religious and 11 were medically active.

DOC has provided vaccines to 39% of its employees; However, this number does not include employees who may have been vaccinated elsewhere.

Some COVID logs in Northern Idaho

Unlike Washington, North Idaho does not require a mask or vaccination, and neither Coeur d’Alene nor Post Falls police require employees to be vaccinated.

The City of Post Falls “strongly” encourages its employees to get the shot by offering a $ 50 incentive in their health account when they show proof of vaccination, said Teresa Benner, city human resources director.

“We prefer to take the carrot-versus-whip approach here,” said Benner. “That goes down very well with all of our employees.”

So far, seven of Post Falls’ 47 police officers have provided proof of vaccination; However, Benner believes the number of officers vaccinated is higher, and some officers are keeping this information secret.

The Kootenai County Sheriff’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.


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