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'It's almost as if we assumed that everyone was just bluffing' | Multiple Leesburg police officers resign over vaccine mandate

On Saturday, Leesburg officials confirmed that six police officers had resigned since mid-October after the city's vaccine mandate decision.

LEESBURG, Va. — Following the Town Council's decision in October to implement a vaccine mandate for full and part-time employees, Leesburg officials told WUSA 9 that half a dozen police officers had resigned from the department due to the requirement.

The council decided on the mandate during its Oct. 12 meeting.

Since then, Leesburg records showed 11 full-time employees had submitted their resignations.

Seven of the 11 employees came from the police department, according to Leesburg Public Information Officer Betsy Arnett.

Arnett told WUSA 9 on Saturday that one of the resignations did not come as a result of the mandate.

However, she confirmed that four officers decided to leave due to the vaccine decision.

The remaining two officers had job offers on the table before the mandate went into effect but after council members began discussing a mandate policy. 

"While we can’t say for certain that the mandate was the deciding factor in their decisions to resign, we assume it played some role," she wrote.

Arnett added that none of the other four resignations of city employees had to do with the mandate.

The resignations come as police departments all around the country are dealing with staffing shortages.

The Leesburg Police Department confirmed that 19 sworn vacancies remained open on Saturday, representing over 20% of the 90-sworn positions on the force.

Officer Michael Drogin told WUSA 9 that while some of the vacancies happened as a result of the resignations, five of the open spots were expansion positions that were approved but never filled due to the town's hiring freeze during the pandemic. He also noted that several planned retirements last year and this year contributed to the openings.

Councilwoman Suzanne Fox was the only Town Council member to respond on Saturday to WUSA's request for a statement on the resignations.

Fox openly opposed the vaccine mandate and expressed concerns about "micromanaging"  employee healthcare decisions.

She said the council's decision "may unnecessarily expose us to potential litigation" but her efforts to rescind the mandate had been blocked.

"I don't believe we have a strong plan for dealing with these resignations.  It's almost as if we assumed that everyone who told us they would resign was all just bluffing," she wrote on Saturday. "We may be finding out the hard way that this was no bluff, and unfortunately it's the residents of Leesburg who will ultimately suffer a decrease in services as a result."

RELATED: 'We're running on a skeleton crew' | Virginia businesses reducing hours because of staffing shortages

RELATED: Leesburg Town Council issues vaccine mandate for town employees

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