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WA Denies All Religious Exemptions To Vaccine Mandates, Hundreds Of Troopers Face Termination

Olympia, WA – Washington State Patrol (WSP) employees who refuse to comply with Governor Jay Inslee’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate will be fired, according to his office.

WSP employees who interact with the public must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18 if they want to keep their jobs, KTTH reported.

Some staff members received emails on Thursday warning that there would be “no accommodation” for those who make “religious exemption requests,” according to the news outlet.

The decision was made after the human resources division consulted with the state attorney general’s office and came at the directive of Inslee’s office, according to the email.

Troopers and staff members who have submitted religious exemption requests should expect to have them denied in the next several days, KTTH reported.

“I wish I had better news on this as I know many of us have been waiting to hear back regarding accommodation requests,” a high-ranking member of the WSP said in the email, according to the news outlet. “I know this is hard news to hear for many of us. I wanted to share this with you directly as soon as I found out instead of waiting for the daily bulletin to come out.”

Another email written by a WSP captain on Friday morning noted that he is seeking clarification on why the vaccination mandate is the only option for employees who “have been working in this Covid environment for the past 17-months utilizing the appropriate PPE, and social distancing protocols to complete our mission,” KTTH reported.

The status of medical exemption requests remains in limbo, according to the email.

Employees who are seeking medical exemptions “will have to take leave during that waiting period until they can come back to work fully vaccinated,” the email read, according to KTTH.

If the medical and religious exemptions are not granted, the unprecedented staffing crisis will cripple the agency, WSP Trooper Phillip Berg told KTTH.

Inslee unveiled his mandate on Aug. 9, the Associated Press reported.

The directive applies to hundreds of thousands of long-term care and private healthcare employees, as well as nearly all Washington state workers.

Even those working remotely must comply.

Employees must provide physical proof of their vaccination by Oct. 18 if they want to keep their jobs.

Inslee said weekly COVID testing is not an acceptable option, the Associated Press reported.

According to an internal WSP poll conducted between Aug. 9 and Aug. 17, only 19 troopers said they agree with mandatory vaccinations, KTTH reported.

A staggering 499 troopers said they do not agree with vaccine mandates.

Two-hundred-ninety-five troopers said they would rather be fired than to comply with mandatory vaccination, KTTH reported.

Among them is 22-year WSP veteran Trooper Robert LaMay.

“I don’t know if people understand the amount of numbers we’re talking about for state employees that are looking at leaving,” Trooper LaMay told KTTH. “I mean, we’re talking, just patrol, 400 or 500, 600 people. We have probably 800 guys that actually really work the road, the rest of them are management positions, things of that nature…”

“If just a quarter of those types of people actually refused to get the vaccination and they are terminated? That’s what the citizens of the state are actually looking at,” he said.

Trooper Berg, a military veteran who joined the WSP 5 years ago, said the vaccine goes against his personal beliefs and values, KTTH reported.

“I disagree with the premise of mandate on its face, [but] I decided to put in my religious exemption form for a specific reason,” Trooper Berg said. “It’s a chance to stand up for the unborn. That is my objection to it. The fetal cell lines used in the process to create this vaccine. So, it’s an opportunity for me to have a voice for the unborn that didn’t have a choice in this.”

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines did not use any fetal tissue or fetal cell lines in the development or production of vaccines, but fetal cell lines were used in tests to determine if the vaccines work, according to Charlotte Lozier Institute.

The fetal cell lines used in testing were lab grown and did not contain actual fetal tissue.

Trooper Berg says there is nothing the government can do to him that will convince him to “disregard what God has placed on my heart,” KTTH reported.

“There’s nothing that can be done to me, promised to me, or taken away from me to dissuade me from my God-given convictions,” the five-year department veteran said. “So, yes, I’m 100% ready to be terminated October 18, and I can’t be swayed from that.”

The Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) filed an unfair labor practice lawsuit against Inslee last month due to the mandate, the Washington Examiner reported.

“This lawsuit is about respecting our union’s right to bargain and ensuring that people in need of accommodations are treated fairly,” WFSE President Mike Yestramski told the news outlet.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin

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