SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — San Diego's police chief is sharing his concerns about the impact of a possible COVID-19 vaccine mandate on his department.
A recent survey revealed roughly 90% of officers believe getting the vaccine should be an individual choice. Seven hundred thirty-three officers responded to the survey or approximately 38% of the department.
More than three hundred officers said they'd rather be fired than be forced to take the vaccine.
Earlier this month, the city announced all employees would have to be vaccinated for COVID-19, barring religious or medical exemptions.
Chief David Nisleit answered questions about the survey during a news conference Monday to address an increase in violent crime.
"That's concerning, the possible impacts of if we were to lose officers, you look at this police department, our ratio of officers to citizens is second-lowest in this nation, so obviously that impacts our ability to respond to crime," said Chief Nisleit.
"Even if it's a quarter of that number, you're talking 75 or 80 officers, that's a lot, and they could very easily go to other places, so it's disconcerting for sure," said Jack Schaeffer, the President of the San Diego Police Officers Association.
The city and the San Diego Police Officers Association are still negotiating the terms of a possible mandate.
Schaeffer is hoping the city offers options, like regular testing for those who don't want the vaccine.
"Regardless of where you are on this whole issue, to be something other than either have your vaccination or go get another job," said Schaeffer.
The city and the union were supposed to have a meeting last week, but the city canceled it.
A spokeswoman with the mayor's office said the city is still in the "meet and confer process" with its recognized employee organizations regarding impacts associated with the city's proposed Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Policy.
The department is already short 94 officers. The chief said the goal is to bring on 200 more officers each year.
He said officers are responding to upwards of 25,000 calls per week.
Initially, the city gave a Nov. 2 deadline for employees to get vaccinated, that date has been pushed back to late November or early December.