The Town Council’s decision to mandate a COVID-19 vaccines for its employees has cost Leesburg several members of its police department.
Data provided by Public Information Officer Betsy Arnett this week showed that, since the council’s Oct. 12 decision to mandate the vaccine for its full- and part-time employees along with most of its board and commission members, 11 full-time employees have submitted their resignation.
Of those 11 employees, seven are officers with the Leesburg Police Department, Arnett confirmed. The town has also lost two members of its Department of Finance & Administrative Services, and one staff member each from the Utilities Department and Town Manager’s Office.
Although none of those employees cited the mandate as the reason for their resignations, Arnett said “to the best of our knowledge,” at least six resignations likely were—all from the police department.
An email from Town Manager Kaj Dentler to the Town Council, which was shared with Loudoun Now, indicates at least initial concern about the impact of the resignations from the police department.
“The Police Department is the greatest vulnerability to sustainable operations,” he wrote.
Currently, there are 18 vacancies in the department, according to department Public Information Officer Michael Drogin. The department is authorized for 90 sworn officer positions.
“It is important to note that five of the 18 sworn vacancies are expansion positions that were approved, but never filled due to the town’s hiring freeze as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, there were several planned retirements in 2020 and 2021 that have attributed to the 18 vacancies,” Drogin added.
While several members of the police department warned the council at a September meeting that mass resignations from the department would come if a vaccine mandate was implemented, Dentler said that two of the seven officers who resigned had received employment offers from other jurisdictions.
Of the town’s 351 full-time employees, 15 employees remain undecided on whether they will comply with the mandate, Dentler said. The “overwhelming majority” of those 15, he said, are in the police department.
“The remainder of the organization is either fully vaccinated, intend to be vaccinated, or intend to obtain qualified exemption so no operational disruption [is] anticipated,” in other town government departments, he wrote.
Dentler also added that no requested religious or medical exemptions have been denied to date.
Eighty-three percent of the town’s full-time employees already are fully vaccinated, and an additional 3% is either partially vaccinated or intend to be vaccinated by the deadline. Of the remaining 14%, according to Dentler, 9% are seeking a medical or religious exemption, 4% are undecided, and one staff member has formally declared an intention to not comply and resign by the deadline.
Under the Town Council policy, employees and board and commission members have until Jan. 11 to either receive both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.