Dozens of Massachusetts Troopers Resign Ahead of October 17 Vaccine Mandate Deadline

A police union in Massachusetts said dozens of state troopers are resigning before a COVID-19 vaccine mandate goes into effect next month.

The State Police Association of Massachusetts (SPAM) announced the resignations in a September 24 statement posted on the union's website and social media accounts. SPAM previously requested that the vaccine mandate be postponed, but a judge ruled against that request last week.

The union's statement said it respected the judge's decision but was "disappointed."

"It is unfortunate that the Governor and his team have chosen to mandate one of the most stringent vaccine mandates in the country with no reasonable alternatives," SPAM said.

Massachusetts state troopers vaccine mandate
A police union in Massachusetts said dozens of state troopers are resigning ahead of a vaccine mandate that is to go in effect next month. Above, a Massachusetts state trooper watches other troopers line up at the Watertown Mall amid a search for the Boston Marathon bombing suspects on April 19, 2013, in Watertown, Massachusetts. STAN HONDA/AFP via Getty Images

The union continued its statement by questioning why the upcoming mandate, which is set to take effect on October 17, does not offer alternatives to individuals who do not wish to get vaccinated against the virus.

"To date, dozens of troopers have already submitted their resignation paperwork, some of whom plan to return to other departments offering reasonable alternatives such as mask wearing and regular testing," SPAM's statement said. The union added the Massachusetts State Police is "already critically short staffed," which the agency said was previously addressed by shifting troopers from specialized units "and return[ing] them to uniformed patrol."

An attorney representing the union told the Boston-based news station WBZ-TV an estimated 20 percent of employees with the Massachusetts State Police were not vaccinated.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican, announced the vaccine mandate last month. The mandate will require all executive department employees, which include Massachusetts state troopers, to provide proof that they have been vaccinated against the virus. Baker's office said at the time the mandate was announced that there may be exemptions available for employees "for whom vaccination is medically contraindicated or who object to vaccination on the grounds of sincerely-held religious reasons."

Employees who did not comply with the mandate would face disciplinary action, which Baker's office said could include termination.

"The best way to protect yourself, your loved ones and your community is to get vaccinated against #COVID19MA," Baker said in a tweet about his mid-August announcement. "Today, I issued an Executive Order requiring all Executive Department employees to be vaccinated by October 17."

Several states in the U.S. have issued similar vaccine mandates amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. One week before Baker issued his state's vaccine mandate, California became the first state in the country to require all state employees to get vaccinated against the virus, with several cities following suit. In response to impending vaccine mandates, police officers who were hesitant to get vaccinated in Southern California, Seattle, New York City and several other locations have pushed back similar to the way state troopers did in Massachusetts.

Newsweek reached out to Baker's office for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.