A San Jose police officer who spent more than a decade on the job said he has resigned because of the city's COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
There are concerns that others will follow Officer Jonathan Koenig, prompting a city councilman to ask for changes to the mandate to prevent a possible exodus.
Koenig's last day on the job was Monday.
"The main reason was the vaccine mandate," he said. "That was the final straw. If San Jose PD was the greatest department to work for in the entire world and they imposed this mandate, I still would have left."
Koenig said he refuses to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
"This should be a choice," he said.
He said he applied for a religious exemption and eventually got one. It required him to test twice a week, something he said proved challenging.
"During the holiday season, the average wait time to get a COVID test was an hour and a half," he said. "So you had officers and other city employees that were waiting in these lines for an hour and a half twice a week just to get tested on our own dime and own time."
After months of testing, he decided to quit and move to Idaho.
Councilman Raul Peralez fears the city's mandate will prompt more resignations.
"I do fear that. In fact, I've heard that concern from a number of police officers and actually other city employees as well," he said.
Those concerns are growing now that the city has implemented a booster mandate and extended the deadline to Feb. 25.
The city said 50 employees, including 33 police department employees, have applied for exemptions from the booster mandate.
Peralez is asking the city council to transition from a vaccine and booster policy to a mandatory testing policy where all employees must be tested, except those with proof of a vaccine and booster.
"That would be the same outcome," Peralez said. "It would just now eliminate that process of needing to qualify hundreds of individuals on religious or medical exemptions, going through a process that, as of last week, I don't believe was working very well and could have again potentially put us, I think, in jeopardy of losing a significant number of city employees."
The city issued the following statement: "The City of San Jose’s goal is to have a highly vaccinated and boosted workforce to ensure the health and safety of our employees, while maintaining the ability to provide services to our community."