Tennessee governor appeals to officers who resist vaccine mandates
The Republican governor of Tennessee has sought to capitalize on rising law enforcement tensions with city leaders surrounding COVID-19 vaccine mandates, offering to help pay non-vaccinated officers out of the state to relocate and join the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
“Our power is one of the most professional in the country, and we will not get caught between you and your doctor,” Governor Bill Lee said in a recent promotional video. “We believe you will be a perfect fit for our state and will even help you cover your relocation expenses.”
The show makes Lee the last Republican leader to capitalize on vaccine-related tensions. He did not immediately say how much the state would pay the officers or how it would be done.
“The rate of reimbursement for relocation expenses will depend on the number of qualified candidates who commit to relocation,” Lee spokesperson Casey Black said in an email, complete training and joining the state police force.
Elsewhere, Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis announced plans to give $5,000 in bonuses to unvaccinated officers who relocated to his state and joined the police force — an offer being formalized during a January legislative session.
“With so many cities and states choosing to disrespect and devalue the honorable work of law enforcement, we want Florida to continue to value our law enforcement men and women today, tomorrow, and for generations to come,” DeSantis said in a statement. August.
Both DeSantis and Lee have criticized the vaccine mandates promoted by the administration of Democratic President Joe Biden. They have also backed various bills in Legislaturesto’s GOP-controlled anti-virus bases.
The focus on law enforcement comes amid the COVID-19 pandemic when first responders in the country are dying in greater numbers from the disease while also falling behind on mandates.
While there are no national statistics detailing the vaccination rate for first responders in the country, police officers, firefighters and others are among the most reluctant to get vaccinated.
About 280 law enforcement personnel died of COVID-19 in 2021 and at last count 13 of them had a connection to Tennessee, according to Officer Dawn Memorial Page.
Earlier this month, Lee hinted that he is keen to increase the state’s troop numbers during a budget hearing with Colonel Matt Perry for the Tennessee Highway Patrol. At the time, Perry said there were currently more than 930 soldiers even though he was aiming roughly for the 1,300 target.
“I would say, I would say, it must be challenged that what you have is an administration that would like to have 1,300 soldiers on the road now,” Lee told Perry. “So you should think about what’s stopping you from doing this and continue aggressively afterward.”