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‘I didn’t hesitate to get vaccinated:’ Puyallup Police Chief Scott Engle asked his officers, and you, to join him.

Puyallup Police Chief Scott Engle didn’t hesitate when it came to getting his COVID-19 vaccine, but some of his officers still have questions, a trait Engle said, “comes with the job.”

“Because of the nature of the work they do, officers are always skeptical,” he said. “You have to be skeptical to be a police officer or deputy and do the job we do. You have to ask a lot of questions and think about the validity of what you’re being told.”

But Engle sees the vaccines as a giant leap forward in solving the problems brought on by the pandemic and says they are the key to getting all our lives back on track. He’s prioritized helping his staff learn more about vaccines, because he believes they’re the best way to protect his officers and the community they serve.

“I 100% see the vaccine as the next opportunity to protect ourselves—especially those of us in law enforcement,” Engle said. “It’s the best way for us to protect our loved ones and protect those around us. It’s our way to beat this pandemic and get back to normal.”

Scott Engle holds a sign encouraging people to get vaccinated for COVID-19.

It’s OK to ask questions.

Engle got vaccinated as soon as he was eligible, but he understands why some folks waited. He hears questions about the vaccines from many in the community, including his officers and others on the front lines of the pandemic. 

That’s why in March, the Puyallup Police Department partnered with Kirk’s Pharmacy to hold a vaccine clinic for its officers and other law enforcement agencies. Engle says, watching fellow officers get vaccine in a familiar setting was key to the clinic’s success.

“Being able to get vaccine from a trusted source, a trusted partner, and for us as a department to say ‘This is safe. We’re offering you something that we believe is OK and can help you,’” he said. “That’s something that went a long way.”

Engle welcomes questions about the vaccine and says he always answers concerns the same way.

“I tell folks that we’ve seen millions of doses administered now across the United States proving that the vaccine is a safe and effective tool,” he said. “In a world that’s so divided, this is something we all can do to come together.”

COVID-19, an invisible danger.

Police officers must be ready for anything. Uncertainty is part of the job.

“We run into danger, not away from it,” Engle said. “We don’t always know what we’re going into, and we don’t know how it is going to turn out.”

Scott EngleBut COVID-19 represented an invisible danger. 

“COVID-19 is hard, because it’s something officers can’t see, and yet it’s another risk to them in the field,” Engle said. “They still have to go to the domestic disturbance call. They  must respond to the DUI driver. They perform their duties, and they don’t know if they are being exposed.”

As more people in Pierce County are vaccinated, the safer everyone is from spreading and catching COVID-19. But until more of Pierce County receives vaccine, first responders are still at a high risk of being exposed, and if they are not vaccinated, they are at risk for catching the virus.

Engle’s officers have always faced dangers they could see. After the pandemic began, they also faced a danger they couldn’t.

“Early on in the pandemic, that was a real stressor on our law enforcement and correction officer families,” Engle said. “We really truly didn’t understand 100% how to prevent or avoid catching the virus. But it was always secondary to doing your job. That’s why the vaccine is so important to law enforcement officers and has thankfully heightened our protection.”

Vaccinate and celebrate. 

Engle is also enjoying the protection COVID-19 vaccine has given his family.

“We do big birthdays,” he said. “Everybody celebrates. Family game nights. Backyard barbecues. All that stuff. We couldn’t do those things for so long. We missed out on all of that, and for us that’s part of connection and part of community. That’s part of having a healthy family.”

Even with masks and physical distancing, Engle and his family didn’t feel safe around large groups of loved ones.

“I have two parents who are older and both are cancer survivors,” he said. “We really found ourselves separated trying to protect all the members of our family. You realize how much that stuff matters. All the time you get to spend with family, friends and loved ones—that’s precious time.”

As more people in his family got the vaccine, the good times quickly returned.

“We were just able to have a great birthday party for my son,” he said. “All the family was able to be there because everyone is vaccinated. We had a family game night where we were able to hear laughs again and see smiles. It really does mean so much for your own mental and emotional wellbeing and for your soul, quite frankly.”

Time for the entire community to heal.

That tradition of coming together and celebrating extends far beyond his family, Engle said, and is an integral part of Puyallup and all the East Pierce County community.

“Puyallup is the land of events,” he said. “It’s part of the DNA and fabric of our community. People love to come to the farmer’s market. They love to see the Northwest Sinfonietta in the pavilion. The Washington State Fair. The Daffodil Parade. The Christmas Parade. Concerts in the park. All of these are who we are.”

So many great traditions were paused in 2020, but many are returning. Engle says we can’t take that for granted and must do what we can to protect ourselves and our neighbors.

“Vaccination allows us to continue to do those things and continue to do even more events,” he said. “By increasing our vaccination numbers, we increase our likelihood of success in everything we do.”

The past few months have offered a lot of hope. Engle wants to see that continue, especially in the community he works and lives in. Some areas in East Pierce County have seen low rates of vaccination and high case counts. That’s something Engle wants to change. 

“I hope our residents continue to get vaccinated,” he said. “It’s a good thing for Puyallup. It’s a good thing for East Pierce County. It’s how we are going to get out of this pandemic. I really believe that.”

Find your dose.

Find your vaccination today at tpchd.org/vaxtothefuture. Everyone 12 and older is eligible. You can register online or just drop in at any clinic and get vaccinated without an appointment. 

If you need a ride to an appointment or can’t easily leave your home, we can help! Call us at (253) 649-1412, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., 7 days a week.

Your role to stop the spread of COVID-19 remains critical.