Police may be exempt from employee vaccine mandate
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Portland city officials because of new guidance may need to exempt the police bureau from an order that all employees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or risk losing their jobs.
The city attorney’s office said Tuesday the order requiring police to be vaccinated is now legally dubious because of new guidance from the Oregon Health Authority, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
Under Oregon law, local municipalities can only issue vaccine mandates for police officers if a federal or state rule requires it. The city believed Gov. Kate Brown’s vaccination mandate issued last month for state healthcare workers covered officers because they receive some medical training.
But the new guidance related to Brown’s vaccine mandate said law enforcement was “probably not” subject to the governor’s orders as providing medical care was “likely not a fundamental part of their job.”
The city’s police union previously said a vaccine requirement would lead to mass resignations. The Portland Police Bureau has said it does not have vaccination rates for its officers.
The city as of Tuesday had not publicly announced any change in policy regarding the vaccination mandate.
Multnomah County, like Portland, has ordered all employees to be vaccinated by Oct. 18 — including the sheriff’s office. County officials said Tuesday they were reviewing how they were affected by the state’s new guidance. They emphasized they want to see the entire sheriff’s department vaccinated — regardless of the mandate.
“We strongly believe that everyone should be vaccinated, especially those people who work in close contact with vulnerable Oregonians,” wrote county spokesperson Julie Sullivan-Springhetti in a statement. “We believe vaccines are the key to ending COVID.”