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Western Australia Police fires another officer for refusing to get the Covid vaccine in 2021

Western Australia Police has fired a veteran officer for not getting a Covid vaccine almost three years ago, despite the force suffering from a recruitment and morale crisis.

Ben Falconer revealed on Friday that he had been dismissed for refusing to obey the force’s Covid vaccine mandate in December 2021, making him the last of 17 WA Police officers and staff to be fired for not getting injected with the untested pharmaceuticals.

Mr Falconer and public service officer Leslie Finlay lost their final appeal against the Police Commissioner’s vaccination direction on April 30, with a court finding that although it curtailed human rights and amounted to coercion, the original judge was correct in saying the mandate was justified due to “extraordinary” circumstances.

After the decision, WA Police recommenced disciplinary actions against the 12 officers and 5 public service staff who had not complied with the mandate, with Mr Falconer being the last to be dismissed.

The former senior constable wrote on X on Friday: “This morning the Deputy Commissioner handed down the penalty and predictably chose to dismiss me from the WA Police for not getting the jab in December 2021.

“He read a 3-4 page summary of his reasons for the decision even referring to my good conduct throughout my 15 year career and positive reports from supervisors.

“He said he feared I might refuse another order again under similar circumstances, I agree that he was afraid, but the rest was a little thin, like butter scraped over too much bread. The dismissal comes into effect once signed off by the Commissioner.”

The decision document, shared by Mr Falconer, noted that he had no prior record of disobedience, and had positive comments in performance reviews.

The deputy commissioner also stated that because 96.9% of officers had taken three doses of the Covid vaccine by June 2022, Mr Falconer’s “non-adherence was accordingly completely out of step with the standards adopted by [his] colleagues”.

His dismissal comes two weeks after another officer, Lance French, shared details of his own firing for the same reason.

WA Police dismissed the 17 staff despite struggling to recruit new officers, a mass exodus of employees during the Covid pandemic, and high levels of worker dissatisfaction.

The recruitment crisis has resulted in WA Police looking overseas, setting a target of 750 officers from NZ, the UK, and Ireland over the next five years, after 473 officers quit in 2022 alone.

Survey data from the same year found 77% of those leaving the force cited poor work culture and dissatisfaction with management, while another 2022 WA Police Union survey found morale at record lows, with 64.6% describing it as “poor”, up from just 28.2% five years earlier.

An informal survey taken by an officer who resigned over the force’s vaccine mandates, Jordan McDonald, found that employees felt “bullied” into taking following the direction, Dystopian Down Under reported.

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