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Lawyer for OSP troopers says 'no doubt' some will quit over vaccine mandate

KATU Portland logo KATU Portland 9/11/2021 Wright Gazaway
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A lawyer for dozens of Oregon State Police troopers said the troopers will put down their badges and guns before taking a COVID-19 vaccine. The stunning development came as the list of troopers suing Governor Kate Brown reached 25.

“There is no doubt people will quit. There are people who are prepared to be fired over this,” lawyer Dan Thenell said.

PAST COVERAGE | State police, firefighter groups sue Oregon governor over vaccine mandate

Thenell said hundreds of state employees across a list of agencies are pushing back, and some are filing suit. Thenell reiterated the troopers are not bluffing – they’ll quit. This resistance comes despite COVID-19 being the leading killer of law enforcement officers over the past year. KATU News asked Thenell why troopers don’t want the vaccine if it’s proven to be safe and prevents death in the vast majority of cases.

“Well, because a lot of people have already had COVID and lived through it. A number of the people I know that are involved in this lawsuit have had COVID,” Thenell said.

Thenell said one trooper's doctor told him he didn't need the vaccine.

The law enforcement officers are just some of the state employees pushing back on vaccines mandates. Separately, six other Oregon workers sued the governor over the vaccine mandate and said their prior infection and natural immunity should exempt them from the law. 

RELATED | Six Oregon workers file lawsuit against governor, OHA over COVID-19 vaccine mandate

However, law enforcers have a unique role that makes their resistance different.

“The role of law enforcement in a community is to enforce rules and laws, and I imagine that includes some rules and laws they might not agree with. Why is this a rule that many of them don't want to follow?” KATU News asked.

“It’s a rule that many of them believe is a violation of a more important and a more foundational, private right,” Thenell said. “They've also taken an oath to uphold the constitution, and they're not going to uphold a law they believe is a violation of the constitution.”

Ultimately, Thenell said the troopers don't deny the severity of the virus; they just believe there are other ways to keep people safe besides a vaccine mandate.

“There are other available alternatives. There's, there's testing, there's personal protection equipment. These are, these things have been being used for a significant period of time,” Thenell said.

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