Baltimore, MD

New "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Baltimore Police Told Not to Reveal Vaccination Status

Susan Kelley

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The head of Baltimore's own Police Union on Friday encouraged City officers not to disclose their vaccination status in advance of a city mandate scheduled to go into effect next week The reason? A lack of communication between city officials and the bargaining unit. That's right - apparently the Union Chief believes there hasn't been enough transparency between the two bureaucracies to merit revealing the status of who has followed orders from the true "top brass."

This flies in the face of federal mandates, and soon-to-come citywide employee mandates, as well as those issued by Baltimore's largest employer, Johns Hopkins.

Sgt. Mike Mancuso, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, wrote a letter to union members Friday, noting: “It is understandable that our members have questions about a policy with so little information being provided by the city. Until the city responds to our right to bargain these issues, or the courts intervene, I suggest you do nothing in regard to revealing your vaccination status as it is outlined in the city’s policy.”

Starting October 18 (Monday), Baltimore City is requiring all 14,000 of its employees to get the coronavirus vaccine or submit to weekly testing. Employees must agree to these protocols in order to maintain full employment regardless of their department or work status.

Police spokesperson Lindsey Eldridge claims that approximately 64% of the department’s 3,000 employees are currently vaccinated, but the department didn’t provide a more granular breakdown between the 2,500 sworn police officers and the 500 civilian personnel working for the department.

On Friday afternoon, City Labor Commissioner Deborah Moore-Carteron met with Fraternal Order of Police leaders, Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison, and several representatives from the city’s Law Department and Human Resources for talks regarding the mandate according to Cal Harris, who is a spokesman for Mayor Brandon Scott.

Sgt. Mancuso claims that union attorneys have been attempting to discuss the policy over the past several weeks with city officials, including what he calls the “various, and very obvious, issues with their vague policy.”

The police union’s attorney’s have filed an unfair labor practice with the Office of the Labor Commissioner, and they have threatened other legal action in an attempt to delay active implementation of the policy, according to Mancuso.

In his letter, Mancuso wrote, “FOP3 believes that there are multiple collective bargaining issues that surround the city’s vaccination policy. We have made multiple attempts to sit down and discuss these issues to no avail." The letter did not detail the specific issues the union has with the policy.

Baltimore is not the only city having issues like this with vaccine mandates. These scenarios are occurring all over the country, in large cities and far smaller municipalities.

In Chicago earlier last week, the head of that city's police union similarly urged officers not to comply with Chicago's vaccination mandate which allows employees to opt for testing through the end of the year, at which time vaccines will be mandated for all city employees. The police union there plans similar legal action and plans also to file a grievance to maintain their option to remain unvaccinated if they so choose.

In addition to mandating police and other city workers, some major cities are mandating proof of vaccination for citizens to attend events, enter stores, and more. New York and San Francisco are two major cities that are supporting restaurants, bars, and other venues in their efforts to require proof of vaccination for entry. The effort has not been universally supported, as evidenced by a recent tweet from outspoken politician Marjorie Taylor Greene, who tweeted: "This is called segregation. Will you be testing everyone at the door for the flu, strep throat, stomach bugs, colds, meningitis, aids, venereal diseases, Hep A, Hep C, staff infections, athletes foot, pink eye, croup, bronchitis, ringworm, scabies, or any other contagions?"

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Susan is a runner, avid traveler, mom of three grown children, and a newly-transplanted Baltimorean who follows tech trends, especially at the intersection of health and the public good. Sound intriguing? It is. Often, technology is at odds with the "earthy-crunchy," but sometimes, it is a real boost. Susan is an avowed supporter of women's and human rights, so that situates well here.

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