WRPS asks for proof of COVID-19 vaccination from all members

The Waterloo Regional Police Service has asked all sworn and civilian members to provide proof of their COVID-19 vaccination status.

The new directive came into effect on Oct. 4. Officials said 88.5 per cent of members are fully vaccinated.

New members will also need to show proof of vaccination prior to employment with the police service.

Anyone who chooses not to comply with the directive will be placed on an unpaid leave of absence, police said in a news release.

“We must continue to do our part and we are committed to doing everything possible to protect the community we serve, including the vulnerable populations our members interact with every day,” Chief Bryan Larkin said in a news release.

Members asking for accommodation under the Ontario Human Rights Code must do so in writing. Anyone who isn't vaccinated will need to undergo regular COVID-19 testing.

If a member is unvaccinated for reasons outside of the code, they will need to take part in an education program.

Larkin said WRPS has done exceptionally well when it comes to managing COVID-19 cases, with 33 positive cases internally over the past 18 months.

“Those who are not in compliance with the directive will be actually facing consequences, which will be unpaid administrative leave,” said Larkin.

Members have until Nov. 1 to  comply.

“(We're) currently tracking 167 members who have either not disclosed or are unvaccinated, and those who have not disclosed their vaccination status we are treating us unvaccinated,” Larkin said.

Larkin said police took a phased approach to voluntary compliance.

In a media briefing, Larkin also took time to address a constable joining Cambridge MPP Belinda Karahalios at an announcement over the weekend. Both were openly speaking out against proof of vaccination at sports facilities.

“It is distressing. It does not represent the values of our organization, and that is concerning," Larkin said. "We are taking appropriate action subsequent to the police services act around those processes."

With reporting by CTV Kitchener's Heather Senoran