by Guy Page
Despite publishing a lengthy, well-written statement about three state troopers resigning amid allegations of creating fake vaccination cards, several questions remain unanswered.
Are Vermont State Troopers required to be vaccinated? Vaccinations weren’t required when the alleged infractions occurred, but today Gov. Scott announced all executive branch employees – including state troopers – will be required to attest to vaccination or undergo testing.
Gov. Scott previously had been resistant to requiring state employees to be vaccinated, although he has always been fine with private employers choose to do mandating vaccination. In a March 16, 2021 VT Digger article, VSP Spokesperson Adam Silverman reportedly said “Vermont State Police do not track vaccinations among officers and other staff members, ‘as that is inherently private medical information.’” State police members are not required to get vaccinated, Silverman reportedly said. But that was six months ago – virtually forever in Pandemic Response time. Today, that changed.
How will the abrupt loss of three state troopers affect already-stressed duty rosters across the state? Even before the pandemic – going back as far as the early years of the Gov. Jim Douglas administration, in fact – Vermont State Police were shorthanded. The standards are high and the hours are tough. State troopers at the lower end of the pay scale earn $67,000, according to the State of Vermont Employee Salary database. None of the salary information for the three resigned officers is available on the database.
What was the motive for creating the fraudulent cards? VSP aren’t saying as of 12:50 pm today. Gov. Scott professed ignorance at his press conference today: “It [the fraudulent card production] makes no sense to me whatsoever. My first question is why? Just get your vaccination and get your card.” What is known is other major Vermont employers, including the federal government and the state’s largest employer, the UVM Medical Center – are requiring proof of vaccination (or weekly testing). And not all employees are happy about that. A UVMMC nurse who spoke on condition of anonymity told Vermont Daily Chronicle today, “significant number of staff RNs and respiratory therapists are not planning to get vaccinated and will leave jobs if exemption not given.”
The possibility of falsifying documents to keep jobs was raised by one Vermont Daily Chronicle commenter on today’s story, retired pharmacist and former U.S. Attorney Robert Orleck of Randolph: “There was nothing in the article that would indicate that these officers worked to create these cards for profit or not. The thought came to mind that maybe they felt threatened in their job if they were not vaccinated so they decided to identify as being so and created a card to link to the choice they made. Just wondering since there are many out there in many fields as well as students who are apprehensive that their right to make a personal decision about their health is being wrongfully and even illegally infringed upon.”
This story will be updated as answers become available.