Police Chief Told Cops Where to Get Fake Vaccine Cards - DMT NEWS

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Police Chief Told Cops Where to Get Fake Vaccine Cards

A small-town police chief in North Carolina is on unpaid leave after he told fellow cops where they could get a proof-of-vaccination card without actually being vaccinated, according to local media. 

T.J. Smith, who heads up the Oakboro Police Department—about an hour outside of Charlotte—was suspended for two weeks and placed on probation for six months over his alleged violations of town and police department policy, which included disseminating information about what he later described as a “self-vaccination clinic,” according to a letter published by WBTV, a CBS affiliate in Charlotte. Town Administrator Doug Burgess told Smith on Dec. 21 that he’d skirted local rules on fraud, “willful acts that endanger the property of others,” serving a conflicting interest, obedience to laws and regulations, general conduct, and competency. 

Smith has the right to appeal his punishment, according to Burgess’ letter. 

“To make a long story short, in retrospect, I made a mistake,” Smith responded in a statement to the television station, which noted he himself is vaccinated.

According to Smith, a friend called him up one busy morning to share some information about the self-vaccination clinic, which prompted Smith to call two other officers—not in his department—so he could pass on the intel. 

“Having the benefit of hindsight now, it is obvious the entire process sounds questionable,” Smith said in his statement. “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.”

Later, in an effort to probe the incident, Oakboro hired a private firm called Blue Chameleon Investigations, according to a tweet from Allison Latos, a reporter with the Charlotte ABC affiliate WSOC. 

An investigator with that firm wrote in a resulting report Latos shared to Twitter that they’d called Burgess and the Oakboro city attorney on Dec. 14, eventually learning that Smith had made two state troopers aware of a “clinic” where patients could self-administer the COVID-19 vaccine in private, then get a proof of vaccination card regardless of whether they actually gave themselves the shot or tossed it in the trash.

By Dec. 17, the investigator interviewed Smith, who said he initially felt it was helpful to share the information with the troopers, since they were anti-vax and subject to a vaccine mandate. However, he expressed regret for being involved in the ordeal, according to the report.

“I shared something that wasn’t true,” Smith said in his statement, according to WBTV. “I didn’t profit from it. I couldn’t possibly profit from it, and I didn’t do it from a place of malice. I care deeply about others, and I sincerely appreciate that I have a job that allows me to serve them and to see things improve in my community.”

Smith did not immediately return VICE News’ request for comment. There’s been resistance to vaccination among certain cohorts of cops, despite the shots’ documented safety and efficacy in preventing severe illness from the virus. The North Carolina’s Fraternal Order of Police has also expressed concern over vaccine mandates, implying they could create a shortage of cops, according to WNCT in Charlotte, though similar threats of mass resignations have come up empty in places like New York City.

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via https://www.DMT.NEWS

Emma Ockerman, Khareem Sudlow