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Crook County sheriff prepares for worst-case scenario if 17 deputies quit over vaccine mandate


They indicated they would do so in recent poll; no one has given notice

PRINEVILLE, Ore. (KTVZ) – Crook County Sheriff John Gautney is preparing for a "worst-case scenario," in the event it loses over a dozen deputies who have said they will resign rather than follow the state’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate by the Oct. 18 deadline.

In the event the agency loses that many deputies, Gautney is asking the county to issue an emergency declaration. That would include gaps in patrols of up to 14 hours a week, limiting the number of inmates booked into the jail and cutting public safety and inmate programs.

Gautney said the deputies’ association ran a poll in which 17 said they would quit, rather than be forced to take the vaccine.

“This is a worst-case scenario, and no one has given notice of their intent to leave employment,” Gautney told NewsChannel 21.

“If this issue ever is forced, it would be devastating to small rural counties like Crook County that are already short-staffed and on a tight budget,” Gautney wrote. “We would be forced to cut services in many areas of public safety, including the jail and patrol services.”

“Having said that, I do not intend to risk the public safety and will continue to provide law enforcement services to the county to the best of our ability,” he added.

In an order and resolution up for review by the county court at a work session Tuesday, the county lays out the impact of such deputy departures.

"Their concerns are not idle petulance, but deeply held convictions that the administrative rules are wrong, unwarranted and foolish," the resolution states.

The proposed order calls on the Oregon health Authority to modify its rules, lawmakers to "adopt sensible, bipartisan legislation" and Gov. Kate Brown "to restrain the adoption by executive branch agencies of counterproductive administrative rules, especially through emergency processes without regular involvement and review by the general public."

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