Statement by Chair Deborah Kafoury on vaccine mandate exemption for law enforcement, parole and probation officers

September 9, 2021

At Multnomah County, we believe everyone should be vaccinated and especially those people working in close contact with people in crisis. Vaccines are the key to ending COVID. That’s why we are requiring vaccines for all County employees including everyone working in our health clinics, detention centers and senior programs. The exceptions are those people who have a medical and religious exemption and now — because the state has tied our hands — our law enforcement and parole and probation officers.

The state of Oregon has the authority to require vaccinations of local law enforcement and parole and probation officers, but is choosing not to do so. We are limited by ORS 433.416(3) and ORS 433.407(3) to impose vaccines as a condition of work on certain classes of employees unless the vaccine is otherwise required by a federal or state law, rule or regulation. Absent a state rule requiring these employees to be vaccinated as a condition of employment, we will require unvaccinated law enforcement and parole and probation officers to take additional precautions to prevent the further spread of COVID and its variants. 

We have asked — and are still asking — the state to require these vaccinations. We are not giving up.

In the meantime, we are working on an alternative vaccine mandate process. We may require unvaccinated employees, including law enforcement, probation and parole officers, and those with exemptions, to be fitted for and wear an N95 mask.