N.C. Police Chief Accused of Helping Staff Get Vaccine Cards Without Getting Shot

A police chief in North Carolina is being accused of helping officers and troopers get COVID-19 vaccine cards without having to get their shots.

Oakboro Police Chief T.J. Smith has been placed on unpaid administrative leave for two weeks and probation for six months for violating police policies of fraud, serving conflicting interests and committing "willful acts that endanger the property of others," according to letters obtained by WSOC-TV.

On Wednesday, the local outlet reported that the town of Oakboro hired a private investigation company to look into the allegations made against Smith and found that the police chief told his officers to attend a vaccine "clinic" that allowed for self-injection.

Smith, who has been the police chief since August 2016, told his staff that they would be given a syringe to self-inject. He said that even if the officers disposed of the vaccine in the private room, they would receive a vaccine card from the clinic as part of an arrangement with the pharmacist.

Investigators said they interviewed Smith after discovering several officers and staff corroborated that they had been advised of the vaccination clinic by Smith.

In the interview, Smith said that "he did not view anything wrong with the procedure as he was unfamiliar at the time with vaccine rules" and that he had given the information to two troopers "because he knew they were both anti-vax and felt this would be helpful to them" as their departments had a vaccine mandate in place.

The police chief also said that it wasn't until further reflection and research that he learned self-injection was against the rules.

Investigators said it Smith seemed to regret being involved, becoming "teary in parts of the conversation."

Vaccination Card Vaccine Mandate Police Chief Fraud
A police chief in Oakboro, North Carolina, is being accused of instructing his staff on where to get vaccination cards without getting vaccinated. Above, seized counterfeit CDC COVID-19 vaccination record cards, N95 masks, and unapproved pharmaceuticals are displayed at Los Angeles International Airport on September 16, in Los Angeles. Patrick T. Fallon/AFP

Smith's unpaid leave began on December 14 and probation on December 21, but the town noted that further violations could lead to dismissal. He will have the option to appeal the disciplinary action.

In response to the investigation, Smith told The Stanly News & Press that he "made a mistake" by passing on the information about the self-vaccination clinic.

He said he had learned about the clinic from a friend and passed the information on without giving much thought, and that based his experience with immunizations in the military, he had taken many vaccinations without knowing how they worked.

Smith said he was vaccinated earlier in the spring and that he was only trying to "help people where I can, and I passed on something that, in hindsight, I shouldn't have."

"I'm owning that. It was a mistake, and I shared misinformation. That's true. I wanted to say something about this before now, but with everything going on, it was best that I wait for the investigative process to conclude," he said.

"Having the benefit of hindsight now, it is obvious the entire process sounds questionable," Smith added.

In the interim, Captain Craig Richards is expected to serve as acting chief of police.

Newsweek reached out to Smith for further comment but did not hear back before publication.