“This is the last time you’ll hear me in a state patrol car,” said LaMay, 50, who recorded his remarks. “And Jay Inslee can kiss my a--.”
With that, he dropped the radio. Staring into the camera, he said, “That’s it.”
LaMay’s Friday sign-off, which was shared tens of thousands of times on social media, came as several law enforcement officers and other first responders across the United States resisted coronavirus vaccination and fought mandates. Those holdouts remain reluctant to get the shots even as covid-19 has emerged as the No. 1 cause of line-of-duty deaths in the first half of 2021, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, which reported 71 deaths between January and June.
Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, appealed to officers directly to get the immunization Monday, saying the resistance “doesn’t make any sense” given that “more police officers die of covid than they do in other causes of death.”
In Washington state, most government employees — about 89 percent — have complied with the mandate, according to data provided to The Washington Post by the governor’s office. When including those who received accommodations, the compliance is about 92 percent. Spokesman Mike Faulk said officials expect the final figures, which will include employees who got the shots in the two weeks that preceded Monday’s deadline, to be higher than that.
But there have been pockets of resistance, with state troopers joining an ultimately unsuccessful last-ditch lawsuit seeking to put the mandate on hold. For those choosing to leave their jobs rather than get the shots, Faulk said, “We thank them for their service and wish them well, but this state is moving forward to get people vaccinated and to end this crisis.”
LaMay, who went public with his opposition to the mandate in August, told The Post that he was skeptical about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines, despite repeated assurances from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He said he was concerned that “the people pushing it are politicians.” He cited fears over long-term effects, including on fertility, though health officials have said there is no evidence of such harm.
“The problem is, we don’t know what this is going to do,” LaMay said. “Is it sterilizing your daughters? Is it sterilizing your sons? We don’t know.”
As a Christian, he said, he has objections to the way the vaccines were developed. He said that his family shares his concerns, and that they had “put it up to prayer: ‘Hey God, if this is what you want, let’s see it.’ ” When he spoke publicly about his opposition to the mandate and subsequently received job offers from other agencies, he took it as a sign.
“This is where we’re supposed to be; this is what we’re supposed to do,” LaMay said. “God will provide — you put it in his hands, and he’ll take care of you. That’s basically what he’s been showing.”
Because of the vaccine mandate, he said, he and other troopers have “lost trust in the governor, our command staff, our chief.” He said he chose to address Inslee (D) the way he did Friday because “he won’t listen to us with proper protocol.”
As of Tuesday, 127 employees had “separated from employment” because of the vaccine mandate, reported the agency that has about 2,200 employees. The number of former employees included 67 troopers, six sergeants and one captain.
The governor announced the vaccine policy Aug. 9, as the delta variant sent infections soaring in the state and across the nation. The measure went beyond other states with vaccine mandates at the time because it did not allow an option to forgo vaccination and submit to regular testing.
“These workers live in every community in our state, working together and with the public every day to deliver services,” the governor said in an Aug. 9 news release. “We have a duty to protect them from the virus, they have the right to be protected, and the communities they serve and live in deserve protection as well.”
Washington State Patrol spokesman Chris Loftis said the agency has urged vaccination for employees “if it is safe for you,” telling them, “We want you to be safe because we care for you personally and respect your value professionally. We need you.” The agency is expecting to lose “a number of staff members.”
Loftis added that Washington State Patrol members are “uniquely dedicated to their profession, so a separation of employment is very emotional and might lead a person to express their frustrations in a less than private or diplomatic manner.” But, he added, “we must all remember, covid has hurt everyone in our state and indeed in our country and world.”
“The loss of needed employees and coveted employment over vaccine mandates is now upon us, and, however frustrating, we must accept it as another part of the tragedy of the pandemic,” he said. “In the patrol, we take oaths to follow the legal directives given us and we will continue to do so with as much fidelity and grace as we can summon.”