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Gov. Lee invites cops defying vaccine mandates to join TN Highway Patrol

A Tennessee Highway Patrol vehicle. (Tennesse Department of Safety and Homeland Security photo/Released)
November 19, 2021

On Wednesday, Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee put out an open invitation for police officers facing vaccine mandates in other states to relocate and join the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP). As an added incentive, Lee also said the state of Tennessee would assist with some of the costs to move.

In a press release, Lee said, “There are many highly skilled law enforcement personnel who want to work in a state that doesn’t get in the middle of personal health decisions yet also provides for a wonderful quality of life. As we’ve ramped up efforts to get more state troopers on the road, we want these men and women to consider Tennessee and we will assist with their relocation expenses.”

Lee further advertised his call for officers to relocate in a YouTube video.

“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. Our force is one of the most professional in the country, and we won’t get between you and your doctor. We believe you’d be a great fit for our state and will help cover your moving expenses.

“Here in Tennessee, we have so much to offer – like a low cost of living and no income tax,” Lee added. “We’ve got a beautiful state with everything from backroads to Broadway in Nashville. And for you, there’s an open road to opportunity. In Tennessee, you’ll be given our full support and respect, and I’ll work to make sure your freedoms are protected. We stand with our law enforcement, and we’ll stand with you, too.”

In addition to touting Tennessee as having the lowest state and local tax burden per capita of any state in the U.S., Lee’s office said joining the THP also comes with a full benefits package, a self-issued vehicle rather than a shared vehicle program, complimentary uniforms and equipment. THP also pays for all costs associated with training academies.

Lee’s invitation to police around the country comes about a month after Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis put out a similar offer to police who are dissatisfied with their working conditions in other states. DeSantis offered a $5,000 bonus to officers who relocate to Florida and begin working in law enforcement.

Major U.S. cities have already begun mandating COVID-19 vaccines among their workforce, including law enforcement officers. Some police unions have opposed the city-level mandates. In August, the Police Benevolent Association in New York City vowed to oppose the city’s vaccine mandates. Police unions in Chicago have also won a court order for arbitration with the city government over its vaccine mandate.

During an October CNN townhall event, President Joe Biden said he supports major cities mandating first responders be vaccinated and supports those first responders being fired if they refuse the vaccine shots.