NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Gov. Bill Lee is making a unique pitch to fill an officer shortage at the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
Lee took to Twitter calling for law enforcement officers upset with vaccine mandates across the country to come to Tennessee, a state in the bottom 10 when it comes to vaccination rates.
“For cops in New York all the way to sheriff deputies out in LA, we want you to join the Tennessee Highway Patrol,” Lee said in a video message.
There’s no national database in determining how many officers have left their jobs because of vaccine mandates. However, according to the nonprofit Officer Down Memorial Page, COVID-19 is the leading cause of officer deaths this year.
The pitch comes as the THP, in their latest manpower request, is asking for $3.5 million for an additional 25 trooper positions.
“Does anybody really think that from Mountain City to Memphis we don’t have 25 good, solid police officers with good experience trained at UT or MTSU or Austin Peay that could come in and do the job, I don’t,” Rep. Mike Stewart (D-Nashville) said. “I think we have plenty of great people here.”
To sweeten the deal, the governor says taxpayers will foot the bill to relocate the officer, a move that could put officers on the street faster.
“We believe that you will be a great fit for our state, we’ll even help cover your moving expenses,” Lee said.
Tennessee is fifth in the number of road troopers in comparison with the surrounding 10 states.
“I would think that taxpayers in Tennessee would say let’s just hire the people that are already here,” Stewart said.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol says they are currently reviewing the exact number of troopers needed.
“I just really respect the law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day,” Stewart said. “I don’t think we should tangle that up with politics in general and certainly not with the bogus unscientific lies that are being spread by these anti-vax internet activists.”
Currently, the state has 938 highway patrolmen with a once-a-year cadet class.