The Boston Police Department has put the most vocal critic of the city’s vaccine mandate on leave amid an internal-affairs investigation a week ahead of the jab deadline.
Sgt. Shana Cottone, the head of the recently formed group Boston First Responders United, is now on administrative leave from the department, the Boston Police Department confirmed.
A spokesman said it’s due to an open internal affairs investigation, so no further information is obtainable.
Cottone said BPD officers came to her house and took her badge and gun Saturday morning.
“They’re trying to come after me — to silence me,” Cottone told the Herald. “They’re not going to silence me.”
Cottone established the BFRU group in opposition to Mayor Michelle Wu’s expanding vaccine mandate that will require essentially all municipal workers to get their first shot by Jan. 15. She’s refusing to get the jab for what she says are religious reasons.
Wu implemented the mandate as Covid-19 surged, pushed by the highly contagious omicron variant.
BRFU — along with her workers union the Boston Police Superior Officers Federation and other city public-safety groups — is involved in a lawsuit attempting to stop the mandate. There’s a hearing scheduled for Tuesday on the suit.
The BFRU was one of the organizers of a protest last week that brought several hundred people out downtown to demonstrate against the mandate. Cottone, who’s gone to the newspapers, TV and radio to rail against Wu and her mandate, at the time said she felt like she was “planning my own funeral” because she expected to be fired for refusing to get the shot.
Cottone’s union took issue with the department’s move, saying it plans on investigating whether this followed due course of action.
“This supervisor here happens to be one of the most vocal opponent of the new vaccine mandate,” the Federation said in a statement. “While we do not always proportion the manner, tone or language this individual has used to criticize the policy and City officials, the timing of this action by the City raises questions, as it occurred just a few days before a court hearing to enforce an agreement allowing supervisors to submit to a weekly test lieu of a vaccine.”
Cottone made headlines several years ago for more positive reasons — she’s credited with saving a woman’s life as she worked the finish line during the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
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