Mark Humphrey / AP
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has an invitation to law enforcement officers across the nation, regardless of their COVID-19 vaccination status: Join the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
“Our force is one of the most professional in the country,” Mr. said in a video Wednesday release. “And we won’t come between you and your doctor.”
In a message to police from New York to Los Angeles, the Republican governor said the state would even help cover travel costs for those joining the force. He guides interested people to apply online.
“We believe you would be a great fit for our state,” he said, before citing a number of reasons he believes the state would appeal to them. Those things include its beauty, low cost of living, lack of income taxes and full support of law enforcement.
“I will work to make sure your liberties are protected,” he added. “We stand with our law enforcement and we will stand with you too.”
The Tennessee Highway Patrol thanks Lee for his “strong support” in a tweet.
Lee’s message comes at a time when many public agencies are asking their employees to be vaccinated, and faced resistance from police officers and the unions that represent them.
That is despite the fact that COVID-19 is the leading cause of death on duty for law enforcement officers in 2021, according to Officer Down’s Memorial Site. About 280 officers have died from the virus this year, more than five times the number of gun deaths.
WPLN member station in Nashville reported that the state highway patrol denied a request for a vaccination.
The Highway Patrol is also offering full benefits, a car, free uniforms and free training to qualified applicants, “including those who have to leave other departments.” because they haven’t reached their goal yet,” added WPLN.
Tennessee is not the first state to make this kind of offer.
Last month, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said he’s trying to recruit out-of-state officers and sheriff’s deputies who risk losing their jobs for not being vaccinated or disclosing their immunization status. DeSantis, a Republican, told Fox News that he hopes to sign legislation that would award a $5,000 bonus to any official who moves to Florida.
This story originally appeared on NS Morning version live blogs.