A North Carolina police chief has been suspended after accusations that he told officers about a “clinic” where they could get proof of COVID-19 vaccination without actually getting inoculated, multiple news outlets report.
Oakboro Chief T.J. Smith was placed on unpaid administrative leave for two weeks, starting Dec. 21, WBTV reported, citing a letter from town administrator Doug Burgess. Smith was also handed a six-month probation.
In the letter dated Dec. 21, Burgess said Smith violated sections of the town’s personnel policy including “willful acts that endanger the property of others” and “fraud,” according to the news station. The police chief is also accused of breaching the police department’s “obedience to laws and rules and regulations.”
Smith told other officers that they could get a COVID-19 vaccine card through an agreement with a pharmacist. Smith said it was a “self-vaccination clinic”, where they could go into a restroom with a syringe and administer the COVID-19 shot themselves — or toss the vaccine entirely, WSOC-TV reported.
Chief Smith responded, and gave his side of the story:
“Many have asked me for details regarding my involvement in recent allegations. To make a long story short, in retrospect, I made a mistake. A friend called me with some information about a mobile vaccination clinic. It was a busy morning like every other busy morning. After I got off the phone with that friend, I called two other officers (not in my department) and passed on information about what was described as a “self-vaccination” clinic. I got one phone call, hung up and made two others. I didn’t sit back and digest the information, ruminate on it, or otherwise give it much thought. I just passed it on.”
“Having the benefit of hindsight now, it is obvious the entire process sounds questionable. I didn’t post it on social media, and I didn’t really sit back and think hard on it at that moment. It was just one person sharing the word with another.”
“I’m not a doctor and not in the medical field. I don’t know much about the vaccine process or what’s involved. That’s what these clinics and such are for. Being in the military, I have taken many vaccinations without ever knowing what was in them or how they worked. I received my own Covid vaccines in the spring of this year from the VA hospital in Salisbury. I just try to help people where I can, and I passed on something that, in hindsight, I shouldn’t have.”