Arizona sees flood of police applications as Washington vaccine mandate begins

The new officers are leaving Washington state as Gov. Jay Inslee's vaccination mandate takes effect.

Updated: October 19, 2021 - 11:14pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The Arizona Department of Public Safety is in the process of issuing several new badges to former Washingtonians and reviewing dozens of applications as the northwest state begins firing officers for refusing a COVID-19 vaccination.

The new officers are leaving Washington as Gov. Jay Inslee's vaccination mandate takes effect.

About 90% of Washington’s 60,000 workers are vaccinated, according to state data. Inslee set Oct. 18 as the deadline for state employees, K-12 staff and public university employees to be vaccinated. Leaked emails showed virtually all requests for a religious exemption were denied.

WSP told Fox 13 Seattle that 67 troopers, six sergeants and one captain were terminated.

Bart Graves, media relations specialist with DPS, told The Center Square on Monday that DPS' September trip to Washington paid off.

"The team participated in a 12-day recruiting event covering the State of Washington," Graves said. "Washington State Patrol graciously hosted us for the duration. We had a team partnered with them every day at the Washington State Fair, which resulted in over 100 leads."

Graves said a handful quickly qualified for offers.

"We currently have several Washington State Troopers in the hiring process," he said.

Graves said the mandate was not the reason for DPS' trip to the state. Arizona law forbids most public entities from requiring vaccination as a condition of employment.

The Arizonan recruiters conducted meet-and-greets in Spokane and Puyallup, conducting the written and physical fitness tests at Washington State Patrol headquarters.

Some Washington State Police officers have resigned from their positions, making it clear they still would be on the force if not for the vaccination mandate.

Trooper Robert LaMay, a 22-year veteran with WSP, recorded his final sign-off Oct.17, saying he was asked to leave "because he’s dirty," and offered an epithet toward Inslee.

LaMay later told Jason Rantz on 770 KTTH he doesn't regret his decision.

"I don't walk away as a guy who sat out there drinking coffee for years," he told Rantz, adding there are dozens of additional officers being fired.

Because he was fired, LaMay said he and his family lost a portion of his retirement and health coverage they otherwise would have had if he were allowed to retire in a few years.

In addition to Inslee's mandate, President Joe Biden has ordered any public or private entity that receives federal funds is to have a fully vaccinated staff by Dec. 8.

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