Attorney General Ashley Moody warned Monday that COVID-19 vaccine mandates may aggravate the shortage of law enforcement officers in Florida.
In a fiery speech in Alachua County, Moody rebuked vaccine mandates and vowed a legal fight against such efforts by local officials. The mandates, she warned, are “unlawful” and will “dangerously” impact the state’s police retention and recruitment issues.
“This does not and will not help,” Moody said.
Moody delivered the remarks alongside Gov. Ron DeSantis, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and members of Florida’s first responder community.
The trio blasted the controversial public health measure and announced plans to fine local jurisdictions who require vaccines as a condition of employment.
Moody described vaccine mandates as the latest example of government overreach. She vowed to protect the employment of those threatened by the mandates.
“We’ve seen a lot of egregious examples where politicians across our country thought they had a lot more power than they actually did: locking people in their homes, keeping them from participating in religious ceremonies and worship,” Moody lamented.
Moody warned the mandates threaten more than just the ranks of law enforcement. They also threaten the safety of Florida’s communities.
“It is unconscionable,” Moody said.
Indeed, Florida — like many states — is reckoning with an exodus of law enforcement officers.
Nationwide, thousands of law officers have quit, and agencies are struggling to recruit after the murder of George Floyd. Morale is low even among remaining officers, according to a June survey by the Police Executive Research Forum.
To bolster the ranks of Florida law officers, Gov. Ron DeSantis unveiled plans last week to attract more candidates.
DeSantis intends to offer a $5,000 signing bonus to new law enforcement officers in Florida. The state would also offer the police certification exam at no-cost to out-of-state cops and create a scholarship to support recruits who need financial backing.
Moody vowed to stop local officials who jeopardize the Governor’s efforts and employment of others.
“You now have the Attorney General in the State of Florida in your corner,” Moody said.