American News Sep 3, 2021 4:31 PM EST

Washington law enforcement agency prepares for staffing crisis after vaccination firings

On the effects that are to come after departments fire officers once the mandate goes into effect, a source within King County Sheriff's Office told The Post Millennial that departments won't be able to effectively service the public and keep communities safe.

Washington law enforcement agency prepares for staffing crisis after vaccination firings
Katie Daviscourt Seattle, WA
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The King C0unty Sheriff's office in Washington state sent an email to employees on Thursday which discussed the ongoing patrol staffing crisis and told them to plan for a sudden separation of a number of deputies in the fall due to the new state-employee vaccination mandate.

In an email obtained by The Post Millennial, Chief of Patrol Operations Jesse Anderson said law enforcement agencies across the state of Washington are planning for changes in the near future.

Chief Anderson explained that the non-compliant vaccination firings will only add to the staffing crisis and said deputies, detectives, and sergeants in other departments will need to start preparing to move back to patrol and help with overtime shifts.

"As many of you are experiencing, the mandatory patrol backfill continues to be a problem and our patrol deputies are in need of relief.  I want to share with you the steps we are taking to plan for our current and future state of the Sheriff’s Office.  We also recognize the potential for a sudden separation of a number of deputies in the fall due to the vaccination mandate, so changes will likely need to be implemented soon," Chief Anderson said in an email.

"In the last couple weeks I've started working with the Majors, Chiefs and Undersheriff to plan for the possibility of redeploying deputies, detectives and sergeants to patrol.  We will likely need to do this if our current staffing/hiring situation doesn't improve, but it will certainly be needed if a large number of commissioned members were to separate in the fall.  There will likely be phases to the redeployment, and we are using hypothetical numbers to prioritize what this may look like in those phases.  We are continuing to meet and pay attention to what's happening in the department as we plan," Anderson continued.

"Please keep in mind the KCSO is not the only police agency having to make staffing changes, or at least plan for changes.  Our reasons may be a little different, but other agencies are dealing with the same problem- not enough officers/deputies to adequately cover patrol shifts/districts.  In addition to other agencies redeploying and having detectives backfill patrol, I'm also hearing alternate shift options.  We will continue to look at options for KCSO," Chief Jesse Anderson concluded.

On August 9, Democratic Governor Jay Inslee announced mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for state employees and workers in private health and long-term care settings, including state for contractors. Further mandates were announced on August 18, requiring vaccinations for those working in K-12, childcare, and higher education. All employees affected by the mandate are required to receive both doses of the coronavirus vaccination by October 18, meaning they will need to receive the first dose by September 6.

On the effects that are to come after departments fire officers once the mandate goes into effect, a source within King County Sheriff's Office told The Post Millennial that departments won't be able to effectively service the public and keep communities safe.

"There'll be no detectives. The county will dump contracts, which will make officers leave as those cities make their own police departments. Morale will continue to plummet as everyone is forced to work excessive amounts of overtime just to cover minimums, which will cost the county and cities way more money. Then they'll drop minimums down, causing a danger to officers and citizens alike," the officer explained.

As the King County Sheriff's Office prepares for a staffing crisis, recent reports revealed that Seattle is on pace to match or exceed 2020's 25-year record high of homicides. King County is also on track to eclipse last year's record high number of homicides.

At a press conference Tuesday morning to address a weekend of shootings across the city, Interim Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz said, "So far, year to date, there have been over 100 additional shootings compared to the same time last year in 2020." As of Tuesday morning, there have been more than 380 shots fired, 135 victims and 35 gun killings in the city so far this year.

According to the King County prosecuting attorney’s latest report on shootings released last week, 197 people have been shot so far this year,  up 61 percent over the past four-year average. That number of victims is the highest number, through the 2nd quarter, since the prosecuting attorney’s office began keeping gun violence data in 2017. The cause cited by police and safety experts is the slashing of the Seattle Police Department (SPD) budget and the demonizing of officers by public officials.

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