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Thirty-two police officers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines either resigned or retired from the force ahead of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, while a further 13 did not take the jab and were considered to have resigned their jobs.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves disclosed the data on NBC Radio on Wednesday.

He said that of the 1,200-plus officers that make up the Police Force — including the Coast Guard Service and Fire Brigade —  32 had either resigned or retired before the mandate.

Two of these former officers would not get any money under the  police pension rules as one had served for one year and another for eight years.

“All the others, most of them have served over 20 years. Some of them late 20s and a couple in the early 30s — like 31, 32. One actually served 33 years. So that person is pretty much at the end of their 33 and a  third, for their maximum pension.”

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The prime minister said he suspects that some of these people retired because they didn’t want to take the COVID vaccine “and some of them, they would have retired in any case, because every year you’ll have a certain number of retirements and resignations.”

He said that in addition to the officers who resigned or retired, there were 13 under the aegis of the commissioner of police —  from the rank of constable to sergeant — who did not take the vaccine and, accordingly, “would have abandoned their jobs… 

“And they’re deemed to have resigned their office because of their abandonment. One of them is a sergeant, two of them are corporals and the rest of the 13 there are constables.”

Gonsalves said that there is a station sergeant of police who is considered to have abandoned his job, but because of his rank, his case is being handled by the Public Service Commission. 

On Wednesday, Station Sergeant of Police Brenton Smith, who is also head of the Police Welfare Association, told iWitness News that the Public Service Commission had written to him, indicating that he was deemed to have resigned his job.  

Meanwhile, Gonsalves said that at the Immigration Department, two people had not taken the vaccine.

One of them, who had received a temporary exemption, was expected to take the jab on Wednesday and the other was awaiting a response to a religious exemption application. 

At the Customs Department, 18 out of about 200 staff members had not taken the vaccine. 

“So that Customs is functioning quite fully but five of those 18 have maternity leave.”

The prime minister said that one of the staff is expected to take the jab by Dec. 30 and another at an earlier date, while two others have sought religious exemptions.