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25 Dec, 2021 05:02

Police chief suspended for helping officers dodge vaccine mandate

Police chief suspended for helping officers dodge vaccine mandate

A North Carolina police chief has been placed on unpaid leave after he allegedly told officers about a ‘clinic’ where they could obtain Covid-19 vaccine certificates without getting vaccinated.

Oakboro town administrator Doug Burgess placed Police Chief TJ Smith on two weeks unpaid leave and six weeks probation after Smith allegedly recommended the questionable clinic to peers. Burgess also warned Smith that he could face permanent dismissal if further violations take place.

Burgess accused Smith of engaging in “detrimental personal conduct” by “notifying law enforcement officers to attend a ‘clinic’ where they would be able to obtain proof of COVID 19 vaccination cards without being vaccinated.” The police chief’s conduct supposedly violated department policies on fraud, endangering the property of others, and serving a conflicting interest.

In his own statement, Smith claimed to have made a “mistake” by passing on “information about what was described as a ‘self-vaccination’ clinic.” Smith said he was told about the clinic by a friend and didn’t give “much thought” to the matter before sharing the information with others.

“Having the benefit of hindsight now, it is obvious the entire process sounds questionable,” he acknowledged, adding however that he “didn’t post it on social media” and was “just one person sharing the word with another.”

I just try to help people where I can, and I passed on something that, in hindsight, I shouldn’t have

Smith argued that though he mistakenly “shared misinformation,” he “didn’t do it from a place of malice,” and the police chief expressed hope that he could continue to serve the people of Oakboro.

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