San Francisco Police Department could run out of 533 officers due to staff constraints related to vaccines mandate

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SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) – San Francisco’s vaccination mandate went into effect Monday, leaving hundreds of unvaccinated employees on administrative leave – exacerbating staff shortages in several city departments.

836 employees have declared themselves unvaccinated, representing 2.8% of the city’s total workforce, officials confirmed in a statement. This group includes city employees, police, firefighters, sheriff’s deputies, and SFMTA staff.

RELATED: 40 SFPD Agents On Leave Because They Did Not Receive COVID Vaccine

“It’s a bit disappointing,” said Sasha Selvam, a local resident. “Mainly because San Francisco has such a high vaccination rate in general. I feel like there are only a few groups that do not get vaccinated.”

Several MUNI stops were deserted in the city because 100 public transport operators were unable to work due to non-compliance with the mandate. SFMTA has temporarily suspended two lines along California and Mission streets.

“It’s just a shame,” said Selvam, who frequents both routes. “I would have loved to see more buses coming back. Especially with the Uber and Lyft fares which are so expensive right now.”

The city said nearly 200 non-civil servants are exempt, meaning they had valid religious or medical reasons for not being vaccinated. But, the remaining 750 employees who remain in non-compliance after the deadline will be placed on administrative leave until their due process hearing.

RELATED: SF Vaccine Restrictions Could Mean Fewer Officers On The Streets

“Due process does not always require a full trial-like hearing,” said Dorit Reiss, professor of law at UC Hastings.

Reiss explains that each case may take longer to review if there are factual disputes.

“If their request is, my religious exemption is denied because you didn’t believe me, it may be a more elaborate hearing… then if they try to say if the warrant is illegal,” Reiss said. “In which case, due process wouldn’t get them very far.”

Employment lawyer Karen Michael says that with hundreds of cases to review, the whole process could take the city several weeks, if not a month.

“It’s a case-by-case analysis,” said Michael. “So if you have more than 800 employees and this is the subject of all deliberation, each person’s situation needs to be dealt with individually… it may take some time.”

VIDEO: Unvaccinated SF State seniors fear COVID vaccination policy will interfere with graduation

Experts say the attention to detail required to examine these cases could have long-term impacts on the city’s staff shortages. In addition to 200 SFMTA staff, the city says there are 115 law enforcement staff also in non-compliance – including 60 police officers.

ABC7 has contacted SFPD for further comments on the employment status of these officers and whether they will all be replaced. The department currently lacks 473 agents, not counting the 60 agents who do not comply with the vaccination mandate. Depending on what legally happens with these cases in the coming months, the department could run out of 533 agents by next year.

Chief Bill Scott has indicated that the department is ready to redeploy staff from the Office of Field Operations. The Chief wrote the following statement in a recently published internal email:
“Even if the worst-case scenario were to force staff reductions due to our unvaccinated members, the San Francisco Police Department will have the resources to carry out its functions of preserving peace and protecting security. and the property of those whom we have sworn to serve. “

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