Portland, Oregon will not enforce citywide vaccine mandate on police officers

Posted at 2:06 PM, Sep 09, 2021

The city of Portland, Oregon, says it will no longer force police officers to comply with a vaccine mandate that requires all city employees to get a shot.

According to Oregon Public Broadcasting, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler made the announcement Tuesday.

"I am disappointed that we can't hold all of our City employees to the same vaccine requirement," Wheeler said in a statement. "However, state law prohibits us from requiring vaccinations for police officers unless there's a federal or state law, regulation or rule that mandates they get vaccinated."

According to KGW-TV in Portland, the city announced on Aug. 30 that all city employees needed to get vaccinated or risk losing their jobs. The city passed that mandate following an Aug. 19 order issued by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, which required all health care workers in the state to get a shot.

According to KGW, the city took a broad interpretation of Brown's order and argued the police officers should be covered in the mandate because they receive some medical training.

However, guidance released earlier this month by the Oregon Health Authority noted that police "probably" did not qualify under Brown's order.

"While a police officer may have some medical training, or may even be a licensed health care provider, it is likely not a fundamental part of their job to provide direct or indirect medical care in a healthcare setting," the guidance reads. "If a police officer has a job that by definition requires them to provide medical care to individuals, then the rule likely does apply."

"I still am strongly encouraging police officers to get vaccinated," Wheeler said in a statement. "Our City leaders have decided we want to lead by example, and science has proven that vaccines are the most effective tool to end this pandemic."

The Willamette Week reports that the Portland Police Association union was opposed to the mandate. Officials with the union had warned that had the mandate gone into effect, mass resignations would lead to a shortage of police officers.