During the 71-second video released to YouTube, Lee said the Tennessee Highway Patrol “won’t get between you and your doctor,” adding THP is offering to cover all moving expenses for any officer who leaves another state to join its force.
Earlier this month, Lee signed a new state law banning vaccine mandates and curtailing when mask mandates can be enacted.
Lee specifically mentioned New York City and Los Angeles, both cities where police officers and sheriff deputies are or will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
New York City’s mandate went into effect on Nov. 1, with the Police Commissioner Dermot Shea announcing out of 35,000 department employees, 34 were put on leave due to an unvaccinated status.
COVID-19 was the most frequent cause of death for officers in 2020 and so far in 2021, according to Officers Down Memorial Page, which tracks law enforcement officer deaths throughout the country.
In 2021, 422 officers have died, with 277 of those deaths caused by COVID-19. Tennessee has lost 18 officers this year and 13 because of COVID-19.
Adam Friedman is The Tennessean’s evening reporter covering breaking news, crime, cops and a little bit of everything else.