Denver Police Will Be Held 'Accountable' if They Don't Get Mandated Vaccine, City Warns

Denver's top public safety leader warned Saturday that police officers, sheriff's deputies and firefighters who don't follow the city's mandate to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by September will be held "accountable."

Murphy Robinson, executive director of the Department of Public Safety, said he is prepared to discipline or even fire first responders who do not comply with the city's order, according to The Denver Post.

"That order says city employees shall be vaccinated. If our folks don't comply with it in the time that is allotted by the mayor's office and the Department of Public Health and Environment, then I am prepared to do what is necessary to hold people in compliance and hold people accountable," said Robinson. "That's my job."

On Monday, the city health department released a public order that requires all city employees to receive their second vaccine dose and provide proof of vaccination by September 15.

In a statement on Thursday, the Denver police officers' union responded by saying that it "respects and trusts our members with their own choices on how to maintain their health, the health of their families and the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Denver."

"Health and safety has been and always will be a core value and personal commitment to every officer serving the community," the statement from the Denver Police Protective Association (PPA) added. "Our members can be trusted with their personal decisions."

Denver vaccine mandate
Denver's top public safety official warned Saturday that police and other first responders will be held "accountable" if they don't receive the mandated COVID-19 vaccine. Here, a pharmacy technician prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on February 20, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

By Saturday, it was unclear how many of the Denver's police officers or emergency responders have been vaccinated against the virus, as the city does not specifically keep track.

However, the PPA, which represents a majority of the department's 1,494 officers, recently conducted its own poll of vaccinated members. The survey, which was shared with the Post, found that a total of 778 union members responded and 332 (or 43 percent) said they had received the vaccine.

Nonetheless, the union issued a statement Thursday night disputing the validity and accuracy of the poll.

"The PPA did conduct an internal, informal and unscientific survey of its membership and unfortunately, the survey responses were statistically and mathematically so far away of realistic numbers, it was for this reason, the survey was not released," it said.

But according to the Post, Robinson said he was shocked by the poll's preliminary findings, and said there was "no excuse" – aside from medical or religious purposes – for first responders not to be vaccinated.

"It wasn't until the PPA put their numbers out there that I grew concerned," he said."If we truly do have 57 percent of our officers not vaccinated, then an order is necessary," he added

So far, at least 75 percent of Denver residents older than 12 received their first vaccine dose. According to Our World in Data, 61 percent of adults in Colorado have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 54.9 percent are fully vaccinated.

Newsweek contacted the Department of Public Safety for additional comment, but did not hear back in time for publication.