Inland police forces gain officers who flee vaccine mandates – Press-Enterprise

What some police officers consider bad news — a requirement by their city or county that they roll up their sleeves and receive the COVID-19 vaccine — is seen as good news for Inland Empire law enforcement agencies.

Inland officials say applicants for transfers have cited the vaccine mandate in their current jobs as a reason for wanting to depart for positions in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, where there are no requirements that law enforcement officers get the shots.

Officers with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles Police Department, Pasadena Police Department and San Diego Police Department, among others, must be fully vaccinated. The city of El Cajon recently budgeted for 10 additional officers to take advantage of defections from nearby San Diego.

Police departments like hiring what are called laterals because they provide instant experience and can be trained for patrol faster than raw recruits. In Riverside, Police Chief Larry Gonzalez said, that takes about two months off the normal six months of field training.

There are perhaps five potential transfers going through background checks with his department whose current agencies require vaccines, Gonzalez said.

His department is guided by city policy that does not require vaccines for employees.

“I can’t say that as the chief of police you have to vaccinate, because they would take that as an order,” Gonzalez said. “There are people at work who are anti-vax, and I respect that.”

The San Bernardino Police Department has received an unspecified number of applications from officers who work in LA County who said they were leaving because of the mandate, said Sgt. Equino Thomas, a department spokesman. The additions would be a boon to a department that is still beefing up its force after losing officers as it struggled with finances.

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department also appears to be a popular potential destination for laterals.

“We have received many phone calls and messages from officers all over California, and other states, expressing interest in joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, specifically based on the vaccine mandates that will be enforced by their own agencies,” said Sgt. Brandi Swan, a department spokeswoman. “We encourage them all to apply because we would love for them to work for Riverside County, as long as they meet our testing guidelines and our department policy.”

Potential applicants to the Hemet Police Department sometimes ask about vaccine mandates, said Alan Reyes, a city spokesman.

Murrieta police Lt. Jeremy Durrant said the department is fully staffed and has not received any such inquiries.

No one who has been hired as a lateral in Redlands has cited vaccine mandates as a reason for the change, city spokesman Carl Baker said.

Not everyone, however, welcomes officers who do not get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

“They have willfully and intentionally and brazenly endangered the lives of those they have sworn to protect,” Los Angeles Police Commission President William Briggs said several months ago of that city’s officers who declined to get vaccinated. “That they would instead act to cause harm to citizens is intolerable.”


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