King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn sent a letter to Executive Constantine’s office calling on King County leadership to “stop firing Sheriff’s deputies due to the vaccine mandate and reinstate those willing to return to their former positions” during a time where there is a severe shortage of over 100 deputies and violent crime is at an all-time high.
StoryToday King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn sent a letter to Executive Constantine’s office calling on King County leadership to “stop firing Sheriff’s deputies due to the vaccine mandate and reinstate those willing to return to their former positions” during a time where there is a severe shortage of over 100 deputies and violent crime is at an all-time high.
Dunn writes, “We are currently in the midst of a public safety crisis and are desperate to hire more deputies as violent crime surges and communities across King County suffer under a shortage of law enforcement services. Currently, there are 106 vacant deputy positions, in part because of the termination of those who remain unvaccinated. I cannot remember a time when the Sheriff’s Office has seen such significant staffing shortages, all happening with a backdrop of record murders and violent crime occurring right now in King County.”
Of the 106 vacant deputy positions, 39 of these firings are directly attributable to the vaccine mandate, and another 10 applications for accommodation are under review. KCSO stands to lose 49 officers total to King County’s vaccine mandate, representing nearly half of all vacant positions. Dunn points out that this severe deputy shortage comes at a time when violent crime is at an all-time high. Data recently released by the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office shows that shootings in 2021 have more than doubled, increasing 54% from the 2017-2020 average. In addition, according to data provided by the King County Sheriff’s Office, there was a 129% increase in murders in King County between 2019 and 2021.
He also argues that since the CDC now recognizes the protective effect of prior infection and the benefits of natural immunity, and since 62% of recent COVID-19 cases have occurred in individuals who are either fully vaccinated or boosted, work-entry vaccination requirements should be reconsidered.
“I had hoped that King County leadership would have heeded my warning to provide flexible alternatives when it comes to the vaccine mandate, but unfortunately, that has not been the case. Instead, King County has taken a hardline approach . . .,” Dunn continues. “Considering where we are at in the pandemic and the latest information on vaccines and natural immunity, it does not make sense for the overall welfare of our communities to have stringent vaccination requirements for King County employment, especially when this requirement is balanced against our public safety crisis.”
Dunn shares that though he personally supports getting vaccinated, “forceful vaccine mandates that push deputies out of King County’s workforce ultimately cause more harm than good.”