The Snoqualmie Police Department has launched an internal investigation into a memo posted on its Facebook page that pushed COVID-19 conspiracies and criticized vaccine mandates, according to Police Chief Perry Phipps.
The memo, written by the Snoqualmie Police Association, a labor union that represents some members of the department, criticized Snoqualmie Mayor Larson for a COVID-19 vaccination mandate he issued Aug 24.
The mandate requires all city employees, including police, to get vaccinated by Oct. 18 as a condition of their employment. In the memo, the association argues the mandate violates their constitutional rights.
“Mayor Larson has recently issued a directive that may ELIMINATE [sic] the Snoqualmie Police Department,” the memo said.
It is not immediately clear who was involved in the memo. Phipps said the association is separate from the department, but all officers and sergeants in the department are members of the association.
“Please know that [the memo] was not approved nor authorized by me, and did not reflect my views or the Police Department’s,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
Larson said the city is unsure if this memo reflects the views of the majority of association members.
Currently, the Snoqualmie Police Department has a vaccination rate around 40%, Phipps said, which is significantly lower than the vaccination rate among Snoqualmie residents, which was at 88% as of Aug. 26.
The police and public works are the two departments Larson said the city was struggling to get vaccinated.
“This letter doesn’t do these officers or the department any favors,” Larson said. “This letter is out of tone with the community we serve.”
Larson said he needs city employees, particularly police and fire, to stay healthy to serve the community. Recently, the city had to shut down a public works crew because of a positive COVID-19 case.
“I need to keep the public safe and this mandate reflects the views of a majority of the community,” Larson said. “If [the mandate] doesn’t align with their views, then they are welcome to seek opportunities elsewhere.”
The memo was removed from the department’s Facebook page several hours after its posting. Phipps said the memo was removed because it violated the department’s use of its social media page, which is used solely to provide the public information about police activity, he said.
The memo also peddled vaccine conspiracy theories, alleging that the vaccine was “experimental” and had been responsible for over 13,000 deaths, both of which are untrue.
More than 363 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered nationwide between Dec. 14, 2020, and Aug. 23, 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). During this time, there were 6,968 reported deaths among people who had received a vaccine — about 0.0019%. However, this does not mean the vaccines caused these deaths.
The FDA requires healthcare providers to report the death of any patient who has received a COVID-19 vaccination, regardless of cause. A review of clinical information has not established a link between COVID vaccines and adverse effects, according to the CDC.
The vaccines have met all safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality standards to receive emergency approval, according to the state Department of Health. The Pfizer vaccine has also received full FDA approval for use in those ages 16 and older, and Moderna has applied for the same approval of its vaccine.
Over the last month, COVID-19 cases have been on the rise across the state and in the valley. State health officials have found that 95% of new cases between February and late July were among those who were unvaccinated.