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Dozens of San Diego Police and other city employees receive "Advance Notice of Termination" letters for failing to perform weekly COVID testing

Mayor's Office confirms that notices have been sent to those employees who were granted religious exemptions from COVID vaccine mandate.

SAN DIEGO — Editor's note: This article has been updated with a new headline. The previous version asserted that city employees had been fired as opposed to the city sending them "Advanced Notices of Termination."

According to the San Diego Police, Officer's Association as many as 20 San Diego Police Officers received notice of termination letters from the city for failing to conduct weekly COVID testing. The city tells CBS 8 that dozens of other city employees in other departments also received termination letters.

The officers are among hundreds of city employees to receive religious exemptions from the city's December 2021 vaccine mandate.

Employees who were granted religious exemptions were subsequently required to perform weekly COVID tests in hopes of preventing the spread of COVID.

In March of this year, the city announced that it was granting religious exemptions for hundreds of city employees, many of which serve in the police and fire departments. 

The decision to grant the religious exemptions came after dozens of police and fire employees sued the city over its COVID vaccine mandate

But today, the Mayor's Office announced that many were not following through with the agreement for weekly testing. 

“City employees who were granted an exemption from the COVID-19 Vaccination Mandate are required to do weekly testing," reads a statement from the Mayor's Office. "There are several employees in the Police Department who have failed to comply with the weekly testing accommodation. Those who fail to comply will be issued Advance Notice of Termination letters and will be afforded all due process rights and rights to representation. 

“The City has issued Advance Notice of Termination letters to approximately two dozen employees in other City departments for failing to comply with the weekly testing accommodation. Those employees have also been afforded all due process rights and rights to representation.”

In regards to the police department, San Diego Police Officers Association President Jared Wilson says that as the force grapples with staffing shortages, rising crime rates, and trouble retaining quality officers, getting rid of police officers is not the answer.

"Over the past fiscal year, we've seen more than 240 officers leave our department," said Wilson. "This significant and rapid departure of officers has put tremendous strain on our department, making it harder for officers to respond to calls, implement community policing, address quality-of-life issues, and generally protect public safety."

Added Wilson, "By terminating 20 more officers, the city will be pouring gasoline on a fire that is already burning out of control. This is a decision that will not protect public safety and the well-being of San Diegans. It will do just the opposite."

Editors note: After this story was initially posted, a spokesperson from the city told CBS 8 that the employees have the opportunity to immediately retain their job if they agree to the weekly COVID testing going forward.

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