A veteran California police officer who had been on the force for nearly thirty years has resigned over the city of San Jose’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. This comes as the police department in the city is struggling, as it is chronically understaffed.
“First of all, it’s my religious belief. I also believe I’ve been given a choice about what to do with my body,” Officer Dave Gutierrez said as he resigned, according to KPIX.
“To me it’s my faith,” he added, according to NBC. “What I will and won’t put in my body and I chose not to be vaccinated.”
This photo of San Jose reserve officer Dave Gutierrez was taken on his last day on the job.He says he resigned because of San Jose’s new vaccine mandate requiring all city employees show proof of being vaccinated or apply for an exemption. Gutierrez is not vaccinated. pic.twitter.com/vqvo7LkDhb
— Marianne Favro (@mariannefavro) September 21, 2021
Gutierrez spent 23 years rising through the ranks in the San Jose police force before retiring in 2019, but he later returned to the department as a reserve officer. He has since decided to end his long career in policing just days before the city’s September 30 deadline for all employees to be fully vaccinated.
“I’m not anti-vaccine. I don’t tell people, ‘You shouldn’t get it.’ But when it comes to my body, it’s my choice about what I want to put in my body,” Gutierrez said, adding that his department is already dealing with serious understaffing issues.
“We are already understaffed and can’t afford to lose more,” Gutierrez said. “If they let go police officers who’ve been here five years, 10 years, 15 years, you can hire somebody else, but you’re not going to hire that experience though.”
Guttierez was particularly offended by the fact that employees who are unable to show proof of vaccination after September 30 will face disciplinary action that includes potential termination.
“Disciplinary action is when you have done something wrong,” Gutierrez said. “I have done nothing wrong — by making a choice not to be vaccinated why would you be disciplined?”
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Around 200 officers in the San Jose Police Department have asked for exemptions from getting the vaccine, with most of them being for religious reasons. San Jose’s Democratic Mayor Sam Liccardo, however, has stood by his vaccine mandate for city employees, claiming that it has been effective.
“This is certainly for the protection of the individual members of our city team. But it’s also, critically, for the safety of our entire community because we know, obviously, first responders are out there interacting [with the public] every day,” Liccardo said.
“We are working with police and fire unions for now,” added San Jose Director of Communications Carolina Camarena. “But remember the whole reason for the mandate is to keep the workforce safe and we know vaccination is the No. 1 safety protection against COVID and variants.”
Americans everywhere should be free to decide whether or not to get vaccinated without having to be afraid of losing their jobs. The city of San Jose should be more focused on ensuring they have the best police officers possible on their force, rather than on forcing all city employees to get a shot.
If San Jose doesn’t change their tune about these mandates soon, they may find themselves even more understaffed in their police department.