Officer in Hawaii on unpaid leave, faces firing for defying vaccine mandate

Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 3:31 PM EDT
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow/Gray News) - A veteran Honolulu police officer has been put on leave without pay for defying the city’s vaccine mandate and is now facing likely termination.

Honolulu Police Corporal Mark Kutsy said he was pulled off the streets of East Honolulu while on patrol Tuesday night. He was forced to turn in his gun and badge, and was suspended without pay.

He was also told he will be fired.

Kutsy told Hawaii News Now he’s “disappointed” and does not want to get the vaccine because he fears side effects. He added that he wouldn’t qualify for a religious or medical exemption and didn’t want to lie to get one.

“I’m trying to do this the best way, with integrity, and I don’t want to circumvent the system,” he said.

He added that he would get tested weekly, but Honolulu’s vaccine mandate doesn’t allow for a testing opt-out. Other counties and the state do allow for the testing option.

“We have said from the beginning that we do not want to fire any of our employees,” said Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi, in a statement Wednesday evening. “But our primary goal is to provide a safe workplace for all of our employees and their families.”

He said there are 49 city employees who also face termination for failing to comply with the policy.

Kutsy has 24 years on the department, one year shy of full retirement.

He said his wife is vaccinated but is supporting his decision to refuse to get the shot or request a waiver, even if it means an end to his career.

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