San Diego County officials won’t authorize law enforcement officers to be vaccinated

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – KUSI News has been informed by various law enforcement officials that they “have not been authorized by San Diego County to get our officers vaccinated.”

The Chula Vista Police Department says their City Council have “made calls to County of San Diego Board of Supervisors in an attempt to get our officers authorized to be vaccinated,” but have not been successful.

CVPD says several other counties up and down the state of California have already authorized their law enforcement officers to get vaccinated, and wonder why the San Diego County Supervisors won’t do so.

During Thursday’s San Diego County Health Briefing, KUSI News asked why they won’t authorize our law enforcement officer to be vaccinated?

Supervisor Fletcher responded saying, “we want them to get their vaccines, and we certainly want them to get it as quickly as possible. We are presently following the guidance which is to do healthcare workers, and individuals 65 and older. ”

KUSI followed up saying, “Do you understand their frustration because they are going out saving lives, doing CPR? And especially Chief Kennedy, who is frustrated that her men and women aren’t being vaccinated?”

Supervisor Fletcher responded saying the county “has established guidance from the federal government and the state government, that we have to follow. And that says you have to do healthcare workers and 65 and older, and then you can move into that first tier of essential worker and those first responders are in that first tier.”

KUSI asked if it was true that law enforcement officers in Orange, Marin and Riverside counties are being vaccinated. Supervisor Fletcher responded saying, “you would have to ask those counties.”

KUSI News was able to reach the Governor’s office to find out whether or not uniformed officers can get the vaccine. Darrel Ng, member of the state’s COVID-19 Task Force, responded explaining, “at this point, counties have the discretion in who they are vaccinating. The state provides guidance and the local health officer has the ability to accept/modify at his or her discretion.”

Ng’s response seems to be direct contradiction to Supervisor Nathan Fletcher’s claims.

The San Diego County Police Chiefs’ & Sheriff’s Association complete letter to the County Supervisor’s Office can be read below or here: SDCCSA COVID Letter to County Supervisors.

Dear Board of San Diego County Supervisors:

In the County of San Diego there are approximately 4,285 local law enforcement officers who are routinely dispatched to a wide variety of emergency and critical public safety calls. Many of these calls are for emergency medical needs. For example, our estimates indicate that San Diego County law enforcement officers handled well over 10,000 medical aid calls in 2020.

We know vaccination planning must be flexible based on changing availability, growing demand, changing scientific and statistical knowledge, and changing guidance from health officials at the County, State and National levels. The essential nature of public safety, the medical nature of so many public safety calls, the high-risk populations that law enforcement officers serve on a daily basis, and the growing size of the general population eligible to receive vaccination causes us growing concern for the 5,000 or so countywide law enforcement officers that continue to respond to daily requests for emergency medical aid. Some of our local agencies have experienced outbreaks and they have threatened public safety in the sense of staffing shortages, a need for modified call responses, and response times could be impacted if an agency experiences an increase in officers out with COVID-19. I am worried that this small number of men and women must continue to do their job to support public safety and public health while waiting to receive a protective vaccine.
Emergency services require a team effort. The task of responding to the emergency health and safety needs of our community usually involves a combined effort by fire and EMS personnel, and that of law enforcement. I hope there is some way to prioritize the vaccination of all first responders, including law enforcement, as a part of the changing vaccination plans. One potential solution is to consider the vaccination of law enforcement first responders along with that of others already in Phase 1A (i.e. medical first responders and firefighters).

It is well known to our employees that our partners in Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties are currently vaccinating their law enforcement officers and we, as the leaders of our respective organizations, are receiving regular requests for information on when San Diego county will begin offering vaccines to ours. Any information that you can provide regarding availability, scheduling, and roll-out would be greatly appreciated.

In the end, I hope we can work together with our medical professionals to ensure our communities are provided the quickest and best access to emergency medical and public safety needs throughout the county.

Roxana Kennedy
President, San Diego County Chiefs’ and Sheriff’s Association

Categories: California News, Coronavirus, Health, Local San Diego News, Politics