BOSTON — Massachusetts has terminated 12 members of the State Police — 11 troopers and one sergeant — for failing to comply with Gov. Charlie Baker’s vaccine mandate.
The troopers were let go Friday after an internal hearing process, according to State Police spokesman David Procopio. None of those fired are the seven troopers participating in an ongoing lawsuit over the mandate.
Baker, on Aug. 19, issued an executive order — No. 595 — requiring that all employees of the state’s executive branch, which includes the State Police, to be vaccinated with only “limited exemptions” on religious or medical disability grounds. The order took effect in October and is enforced by “progressive discipline up to and including termination.”
All of the terminated troopers had applied for exemptions under the ground provided but were denied, according to State Police Association of Massachusetts spokesman Chris Keohan. He told The Boston Herald that there was no framework in the law to appeal those denials.
He added that SPAM, a union representing state troopers, was aware of a “handful of official resignations” over the vaccination mandate, but that there could have been more but data from the state has not been forthcoming.
SPAM, in a statement following the terminations, slammed Baker by calling him “hypocritical” and that he “should be ashamed.”
“No appeals. No due process. Just a Governor hell bent on breaking the backs of the State Police who work tirelessly each day to keep the Commonwealth safe,” the association wrote on its Facebook page Friday. “His clear and petty animosity has been on full display for months now.”
“While he closes COVID testing sites, asked that the State House be reopen(ed) without a mandate and has generally shown that we are in the endemic phase of COVID-19, he is still insisting on firing at least 12 Troopers from an already short staffed department. The Troopers deserve better,” the statement continued. “The Commonwealth deserves better. And, Charlie Baker should be ashamed.”
Two emails sent to the Baker administration for comment and response to SPAM’s statement were not returned on Saturday.
The terminations were made as “dishonorable discharges,” according to Keohan, which he said will prevent the troopers from obtaining law enforcement jobs anywhere in the state due to certification requirements of the Massachusetts Peace Officer Standards and Training, or POST, Commission, established by law in 2020.
“They didn’t just terminate them,” Keohan told the Herald, “they eliminated their livelihood.”