Police officers and prison guards fired due to COVID-19 vaccine requirements in Lower 48 are encouraged to apply for jobs in Alaska, but are not specifically recruited by the Department of Public Safety in the United States. ‘Alaska or the Alaska Department of Corrections, officials said this week. .
Both agencies struggled to fill vacancies, and in a social media post on Wednesday, Gov. Mike Dunleavy said if a law enforcement officer was fired after refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or for refusing to say if he had been vaccinated, they should consider Alaska.
The state does not have a vaccination requirement for state employees, and Dunleavy has said it will not impose one.
“The Alaskan law enforcement community invites you to consider the 49th state where we support blue,” the governor’s social media post said.
Representative Liz Snyder, D-Anchorage and co-chair of the Alaska House Health and Human Services Committee, said this kind of message is problematic, given that Alaska has the rate of COVID-19 cases the highest in the country. (Public hospitals reported a record number of COVID-19 patients on Thursday.)
“Messages like this go against the recommendations we receive (from the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services) and communications we hear from DHSS on how we can mitigate the continued spread. and extent of the community, ”she said.
Jeff Turner, spokesperson for the governor, said the social media post did not represent a new policy or a new push, but simply “a normal hiring process.”
Monday was the deadline for public employees in Washington state to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and 92% of the state’s 62,000 employees, including most of its prison guards and patrol officers. state, have done so.
That left dozens, including 74 enlisted officers, who resigned and may be looking for new jobs. Police departments in other states and cities are seeing similar trends. Dunleavy’s social media post linked to an article about the Chicago Police Department.
Betsey Holley, spokesperson for the Alaska Department of Corrections, said Thursday the state has 1,064 correctional officer positions and all but 95 have been filled or offered to applicants.
The ministry has previously said it struggles to retain and hire correctional officers, and union members representing these officers said in 2020 it was losing about 120 a year due to turnover, creating openings that must be fulfilled.
Holley said in an email Wednesday that the department was ready to hire officers laid off in other states due to vaccine requirements, but it has not targeted recruiting efforts on those officers.
“If you read some of the posts on our Facebook page, there were people who responded (to a recruiting post) on Facebook saying, ‘Oh, are you mandating the vaccines? It’s just interesting that it’s the way people think. But yes, we will welcome their applications if they wish to apply, ”she said by phone Thursday.
Austin McDaniel, spokesman for the Alaska Department of Public Safety, said the agency had seen an increase in “soldier side applications” this year. These are police officers from other departments who are interested in becoming soldiers.
He said it was not clear whether this was due to vaccination warrants, but new statistics could be available by early December. He also confirmed that the ministry does not specifically target dismissed agents for recruitment, but is ready to accept their applications.
“Alaska State Soldiers are not running any targeted advertising regarding COVID-19 or nationwide vaccination warrants at the local, state, and federal levels. We encourage any qualified candidate looking for an exciting career in law enforcement to consider a career with Alaska State Soldiers, ”he said Wednesday.
In a report presented to the Alaska Legislature this spring, Department of Public Safety officials said attrition rates in the department have declined in recent years, but retention and recruitment are a problem. top priority.
“We offer an extremely competitive salary to the soldiers of the State of Alaska. And many of our side candidates also tell us that they seek an environment where the community, elected officials and command staff support law enforcement. And that’s certainly the case in Alaska right now, ”McDaniel said by phone Thursday. “So these are the main factors that we hear anecdotally from candidates when they apply and when our recruiting team talks to them. “