OLYMPIA, Wash. - Some unvaccinated state workers are now out of a job because of the state’s vaccine mandate.
On Tuesday morning, the Washington State Patrol announced 127 of its employees have separated from employment due to the mandate.
Officials said 53 civilian and 74 commissioned officers (67 troopers, six sergeants and one captain) have been let go.
On Tuesday, outside the Capitol in Olympia, dozens of hats and boots were put down on the steps to represent the terminated state troopers.
"Twenty four years and 4 months and I am gone, I never would have dreamed this would happen," Barbara Werner said.
The symbolic display playing out next door from the governor’s mansion.
"He is welcome to come out here and see it, we want him to see it," Werner said.
"I wish more would have been taken into consideration before our termination," Michael Farkas said.
Farkas and Werner are 2 of the 127 Washington State Patrol employees let go over not complying with Governor Insee’s mandate.
"We aren’t doing this for selfish personal reasons, I understand the safety and well-being of our citizens," Farkas said.
Farkas, based in Chehalis, served 9 years as a state trooper. He says he got COVID and takes the virus seriously but he also believes everyone should have the choice of what to put in their bodies.
"There are other ways that we can go about this, civil ways we can go about this," Farkas said.
"He can take my job but he can’t take my spirit, he can’t take my morals and my ethics," Werner said.
Werner believes the fallout will impact public safety and lead to delayed services.
"If you take out a chunk, I don’t know how public safety will be better, but I guess time will tell," Kimmie said.
The situation impacting not just troopers but their spouses as well.
On Tuesday, FOX 13 spoke to Kimmie, a Pierce County woman, who spilled her emotions on Facebook days prior.
"Today he turned in his badge," Kimmie said.
She is heartbroken over her husband’s ordeal. Kimmie did not want to share their last name due to privacy concerns. She says her husband Mike served on the force for more than 15 years, much of that in Pierce County. Kimmie says her husband stopped countless drunk drivers during his career and once even helped deliver a baby on the along a highway.
She says it was her husband's calling to serve the community, it was more than just a job.
But Kimmie says her family will never succumb to an order that goes against their religious beliefs.
"An ethical lens of the greater good also needs to be balanced with that ethical lens of autonomy, and autonomy matters, we have to allow that in a free society," Kimmie said.
"We will miss every one of them," said WSP Chief John R. Batiste. "I extended a hardy thanks to those who are leaving the agency. I truly wish that you were staying with us. You have my utmost appreciation for the hard and successful work that you have provided during your valued WSP careers. You will forever have our respect for your courage and your commitment in all you have done on behalf of the agency.
Washington's vaccine mandate, issued by Gov. Jay Inslee in August, applies to most state workers, long-term care employees and teachers and staff at state's schools, which include the state's colleges and universities. Monday was the final day for thousands of workers who want to keep their jobs to prove they've been fully vaccinated from COVID-19.
The only opt-out is a medical or religious exemption, though the exemption only ensures continued employment if a job accommodation can be made.
There are about 2,200 personnel in eight districts, multiple geographic detachments and operational divisions.
The agency said it has been working on a contingency plan. Over the next several days, resources will be moved where necessary and specific personnel losses demand adjustment. In the coming months, the agency will continue its ongoing efficiency reviews and vigorous recruiting to fill three new academy classes.
"As for more than 2,000 individuals who elected to stay with our agency, I am forever thankful," Batiste said. "We must now turn our attention to making sure we deploy our resources in a manner that continues to keep our roadways safe and meets the other core law enforcement responsibilities this agency has met with honor for over 100 years."
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