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Tennessee Governor Invites Nationís Unvaccinated Officers to Join Its Highway Patrol

Li Hai

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Tennessee’s Gov. Bill Lee invited officers all across the country to join the Tennessee Highway Patrol, promising no requirement of vaccination against COVID-19.

“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,” Lee said in a video announcement released on Wednesday. “Our force is one of the most professional in the country, and we won’t get between you and your doctor.”

Lee touted that Tennessee has a low cost of living and no income tax.

Lee also said the government would assist with new troopers’ relocation expenses.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has also openly recruited law enforcement officers from other states. He has proposed a $5,000 bonus for new officers going to Florida, which needs state lawmakers’ approval and funding in the next legislative session, beginning in January 2022.

“As so many cities and states choose to disrespect, degrade, and defund the honorable work of law enforcement, we want Florida to continue valuing our men and women of law enforcement today, tomorrow, and for generations to come,” DeSantis said in August.

Both governors oppose the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Last week, Lee signed a bill into law, banning state government entities and schools from mandating COVID-19 vaccines. The bill also prohibits private businesses and schools from asking for proof of vaccination, or “vaccine passports.”

However, in other states such as New York and California—mentioned in Lee’s speech—unvaccinated law enforcement officers face job termination if their exemption applications are not approved.

Tennessee currently has more than 930 troopers, according to Tennessee Highway Patrol Col. Matt Perry. Perry told Lee earlier this month that he was seeking a goal of 1,300 troopers, the Associated Press reported.

“I would say, you should be challenged that what you have is an administration that would like to have 1,300 troopers on the road right now,” Lee told Perry at the time. “So you should think about what’s keeping you from doing that and aggressively go after that.”

On Friday, Lee also announced on Twitter that he won’t renew the COVID-19 state of emergency, which is expected to expire Friday night.

“Should our state face any future surges, we will consider temporarily reinstating this tool, but in the meantime, we are evaluating opportunities for permanent deregulation,” Lee added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.