Hundreds of Washington State Patrol (WSP) employees retired early or were let go Monday due to Washington State’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The state’s governor, Jay Inslee, gave state employees, teachers, and health care workers a deadline of Oct. 18 to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. According to NBC News affiliate KGW, a total of 127 WSP employees were let go Monday out of more than 2,200 WSP personnel across the state due to the mandate.
While many of these employees were let go peacefully, some decided to speak out in protest during their last shift before the mandate deadline claiming that they were wrongfully forced to step down from their positions. Among them was Washington State Patrol trooper Robert LaMay, who made headlines for his inappropriate language directed at the governor during his last dispatch call on Friday.
“This is my final sign-off. After 22 years of serving the citizens of the state of Washington, I’m being asked to leave because I am dirty,” LaMay said, referring to his unvaccinated status. “Numerous fatalities, injuries, I’ve worked sick, I’ve played sick. We’ve buried lots of friends over these years. I’d like to thank you guys. I’d like to thank the citizens of Yakima County as well as my fellow officers within the valley. Without you guys, I wouldn’t have been very successful. And you kept me safe and got me to my family every night. Thank you for that.”
He ended his final shift rant targeting Inslee: “I wish I could say more, but this is it so state 10-34, this is the last time you’ll hear me in a state patrol car. And Jay Inslee can kiss my a**.”
The 22-year veteran of the Washington State Patrol claimed he had religious objections to the vaccine and that the issue was not political, but about religious liberties and freedom to him.
In an interview with Fox & Friends First on Monday LaMay said that while his exemption was initially accepted, he was later told the job he is in does not qualify for an exception and that he would have to change positions should he choose not to be vaccinated. According to LaMay, the new position not only involved a pay cut but relocation, so he decided to retire a few years early.
During the interview, LaMay also expressed his “concern” over the future of the state of Washington and claimed that while many others agreed with him they decided to get vaccinated and stay due to finances.
"When we started off this program, there was several hundred that were willing to get fired," LaMay said. "Well, then they started looking at their finances … They looked at what they can do and they decided to take the vaccination," he continued.
LaMay added that the officers who got vaccinated but shared his beliefs only did so to buy themselves time to job search. "The people who have taken the vaccination in the state of Washington," LaMay said. "They really did it long enough to finish off their careers the few months or to find another job."
LaMay’s Friday sign-off video went viral on social media with many others across the country sharing their thoughts. According to The Washington Post, despite data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial confirming that COVID-19 was the No. 1 of line-of-duty deaths in the first half of 2021, many law enforcement officials refuse to get vaccinated.
Local reports indicate LaMay wasn’t the only trooper who filmed his sign-off. Another patrol member, Sgt. Richard Thompson, also recorded himself, noting that he was leaving out of a “moral stand for medical freedom and personal choice.”
In response to the number of law enforcement officials resisting the COVID-19 vaccine, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, appealed to officers directly to get the immunization Monday, noting that resisting “doesn’t make any sense” given that “more police officers die of covid than they do in other causes of death.”
Despite telling Fox News his decision not to be vaccinated was based on religion and not politics, LaMay told the Post that he was concerned “the people pushing it [the vaccine] are politicians.” He also seemed to support some conspiracy theories as he told the outlet he was skeptical about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, including its effects on fertility despite there being no evidence of such effects.
“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.”
Bringing up his religion, he added that having received jobs from other agencies after speaking up about the mandate, he felt it was all a sign from God.
“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.”
The governor’s mandate was announced on Aug. 9, as COVID-19 cases increased nationwide due to the delta variant. It is considered one of the stricter mandates in the U.S. 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,” Inslee 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.”
Following the announcement, Washington State Patrol spokesman Chris Loftis said the agency urged vaccination for all, telling them it was because they “want you to be safe because we care for you personally and respect your value professionally. We need you.” However, the agency did still expect to lose “a number of staff members.”
“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.”
Vaccine mandates aside, LaMay is close to the retirement age for his position, so one can’t help but wonder if he is just hopping on the trend of dramatic goodbyes over politics when in reality one is already set on leaving the force.
According to The Seattle Times, Washington State Patrol troopers have had a history of leaving their positions not only because they’re underpaid and nearing retirement age, but because they are unhappy with the agency’s management. Reports like this raise the question of whether a vaccine mandate is really what deterred people from staying at their job—especially given that more than 80% of troopers were willing to take the jab.
Watch LaMay’s dramatic parting yourself.