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Another governor courts unvaccinated cops with relocation offer

Governor Bill Lee made his pitch to out-of-state cops in a video message earlier this week, saying Tennessee’s highway patrol “won’t get between you and your doctor” with vaccination requirements, and offers a “full benefits package” along with free training, uniforms and gear.

“I’ve got a message today for cops in New York all the way to sheriff deputies out in Los Angeles: We want you to join the Tennessee Highway Patrol,” the governor said on Wednesday, vowing to ensure officers’ “freedoms are protected.”

While it remains unclear what funds will be used to cover officers’ moving costs, Lee’s offer mirrors similar proposals made in several other states, with Florida, Alaska, Arizona and Indiana each looking to poach officers fired over non-compliance with vaccine mandates, or at least timing recruitment drives with the introduction of jab requirements in other states. 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis – among the most vocal critics of vaccine orders and other pandemic restrictions – floated a more ambitious plan late last month, saying he hopes to sign legislation that will offer a $5,000 relocation bonus to officers fleeing mandates. “So NYPD, Minneapolis, Seattle, if you’re not being treated well, we’ll treat you better here,” he said.

READ MORE: Florida Governor DeSantis to offer $5,000 hiring bonus for police who lose jobs due to vaccine mandates in other states

While President Joe Biden issued a nationwide vaccine requirement for a number of groups – which has since been suspended under a court order – mandates at police departments are typically decided by local officials. The rules have had a significant impact on law enforcement around the country, however, with Chicago’s police union estimating that more than 3,000 of its officers risk losing their jobs over the mandates, while LA County’s sheriff’s department has declined to enforce them, saying it would reduce the force’s personnel by as much as 10%.

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