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How can police union reject lifesaving vaccinations? | READER COMMENTARY

In this Jan. 14, 2021, file photo, a New Jersey police officer receives a COVID-19 vaccine at Englewood Health in Englewood, N.J. The resurgence of COVID-19 this summer and the national debate over vaccine requirements have created a fraught situation for the nation's first responders, who are dying in larger numbers but pushing back against mandates. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
In this Jan. 14, 2021, file photo, a New Jersey police officer receives a COVID-19 vaccine at Englewood Health in Englewood, N.J. The resurgence of COVID-19 this summer and the national debate over vaccine requirements have created a fraught situation for the nation's first responders, who are dying in larger numbers but pushing back against mandates. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File) (Seth Wenig / AP)

I read Sgt. Mike Mancuso’s comments about a COVID-19 mandate with jaw-drooping incredulity more so than media reports of other police unions defying COVID shot mandates. That’s simply because I am a retired Baltimore police sergeant and can’t comprehend his opposition (”Baltimore Police union tells officers not to disclose COVID vaccine status as city deadline nears,” Oct. 15). If he had been president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 during my service, I wouldn’t haven’t given a hoot what he said about this deadly health issue. Plus, to couch any health measure in terms of the need for a collective bargaining sit-down is mindblowing. There are two things I would ask for him to contemplate in order to possibly dampen his belligerent, confrontational manner where he falsely believes he is defending his members’ rights during this pandemic.

First, he can thank the late Commissioner Donald D. Pomerleau for the FOP becoming a bargaining organization with the catalyst being the Baltimore police strike in 1974. I have no idea if Mr. Mancuso knows how FOP Lodge 3 was born. It was because the overwhelming bulk of Eastern District officers stayed true to their oaths and did not walk off the street and leave fellow officers alone without backup support, unlike what happened in the Western District where I was assigned. The nascent FOP thus began in the Eastern District because the non-strikers supported an FOP movement. Commissioner Pomerleau recognized that honorable act of not striking and finally accepted the FOP as bargaining agent for the rank and file.

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I joined the FOP for that very reason and was a dues-paying member for the next 39 years, even into retirement. Mr. Mancuso sullies that honorable beginning by displaying an oversized display of self-importance in the conduct of his duties as the FOP president. Instead, he should lead his membership in addressing their health needs and not posturing and mouthing unimportant collective bargaining protocols. Is he running for political office?

Which brings me to my second point. According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, COVID-19 was the number one killer of law enforcement officers in 2020, and is the leading killer in 2021. In 2020, of the 374 line of duty deaths, 245 (over 65%) were from COVID. So far In 2021, of the 360 line of duty deaths, 231 (64%) were from COVID, and this is with a vaccine available. I do not know how many were, or not vaccinated. But historically, the shot is a preventer and a lifesaver from the virus, so what is up with Sergeant Mancuso?

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Jim Giza, Baltimore

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