Dunn: King County must stop firing unvaccinated deputies, focus on retention
King County Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall on Tuesday reported to the King County Council’s Government Accountability and Oversight Committee on how King County’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate for employees has impacted the Sheriff’s Office staffing levels and operations. Cole-Tindall shared that so far 91 employees have been denied exemptions or accommodations and 55 King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) employees have been fired or have retired, contributing to the 172 position vacancies at KCSO.
King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn issued the following statement in response:
“After a time, what we’ve observed is that the vaccination — though important for personal protection — is not the silver bullet some predicted it would be for stopping the spread of COVID-19. Though we should be encouraging everyone, including our Sheriff’s deputies, to choose vaccination, we should not be holding their livelihoods hostage, especially when the community benefit is nebulous at best.
“We can still fight COVID-19 while also fighting rising crime in our communities — but it starts with putting a stop to the practice of firing our unvaccinated deputies, who we desperately need to retain right now to maintain basic public safety services.”