Last week, after a judge upheld Massachusetts Republican Gov. Charlie Baker's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for state employees, a police union claimed in a statement that "dozens" of troopers had already submitted their resignation paperwork in response to the requirement.
"To date, dozens of troopers have already submitted their resignation paperwork, some of whom plan to return to other departments offering reasonable alternatives such as mask wearing and regular testing," the State Police Association of Massachusetts said in a statement. "The State Police are already critically short staffed and acknowledged this by the unprecedented moves which took troopers from specialty units that investigate homicides, terrorism, computer crimes, arsons, gangs, narcotics, and human trafficking, and returned them to uniformed patrol."
By Monday, the police union's claim had become a headline for Fox News.
However, as of Tuesday, only one state trooper had actually resigned, according to a report from the Boston Globe.
"The Department has been notified by our HR office of one Trooper who has definitively stated he will retire because of the vaccine mandate," state police spokesman David Procopio said in an e-mail to the newspaper. "It is our understanding that other Troopers have indicated they may possibly resign or retire for that reason, but as of [Monday evening] we are aware of only the one."
The union has reported that 80 percent of its 1,800 members are vaccinated.
On Aug. 19, Gov. Baker issued one of the strictest vaccine mandates in the country, requiring that all state workers be fully vaccinated or claim a personal, medical or religious exemption by Oct. 17. Unlike in other states, the mandate doesn't allow workers to undergo regular testing instead of getting vaccinated.
"I think it's really important for public officials who deal directly with the public on a regular basis, who have no idea whether the people they're dealing with are vaccinated or not (to get vaccinated)," Baker told reporters on Monday. "And those people who are dealing with them ought to be able to believe that they are vaccinated."
Earlier this month, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund reported that COVID-19 was the No. 1 cause of line of duty deaths among law-enforcement officers in 2021. COVID-19 accounted for 110 of the 219 confirmed line-of-duty deaths, followed by traffic-related incidents (43), gunfire (39), and other causes, like heart attack or drowning (27).