Alaska may be a last frontier for people opposed to vaccine mandates.
Last week, Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) stated he’d welcome law enforcement officers defying COVID-19 vaccination rules to join police forces in Alaska, an offering he made in response to a report about Chicago placing unvaccinated cops on no-pay leave.
“Across the country, members of law enforcement are being targeted and even fired for refusing to either get vaccinated or disclose if they have been,” wrote the governor. “Alaska’s law enforcement community invites you to consider the 49th state, where we back the blue.”
Dunleavy’s tweet comes as Chicago police union leader John Catanzara is sparring with Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot. The Fraternal Order of Police president was briefly silenced earlier this month, when a judge issued a restraining order against him, barring the union boss from encouraging police officers to defy the city’s vaccination mandate. That restraining order, though, expired Monday, when a judge refused to extend it.
Catanzara appeared at the City Council chambers Monday evening, calling on alderman to steal back from Lightfoot the authority to decide unilaterally whether city workers should be forced to disclose their vaccination status, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“It is not a queen on that throne — it is a mayor,” Catanzara said as Lightfoot looked on. “[T]he city cannot be run by one dictator on the fifth floor anymore.”
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Sixteen of the city council’s 50 alderman signed on as co-sponsors of an ordinance calling for Lightfoot’s vaccination edict to be voided and requiring council approval for “all policies, rules, and regulations governing discipline of city employees.”
The mayor, for her part, is working to quash the proposed ordinance.
“This notion that individual officers get to be insubordinate as they pick and choose, we’re not having that,” Lightfoot said when the restraining order was first placed on Catanzara. “And if that’s the department they want to be in, they should walk to another police department, because that is not gonna happen in the city of Chicago.”
What about Alaska?
Dunleavy has no plans to impose vaccination mandates on state employees in Alaska, according to the Anchorage Daily News.
The governor’s spokesperson, Jeff Turner, said Dunleavy’s tweet was part of “a normal recruiting process” and should not be interpreted as a new policy.
Alaska Department of Public Safety spokesperson Austin McDaniel said the state agency has seen a spike in “lateral trooper applications” over the last year and Betsey Holley, a representative for the Alaska Department of Corrections, said that, of the 1,064 once-open positions for correctional officers, all but 95 have been filled or offered to candidates.
McDaniel told the Daily News that Alaska “welcomes” applications from anyone who wants to apply, regardless of their vaccination status.
“The Alaska State Troopers are not running any targeted advertising addressing COVID-19 or the vaccine mandates occurring across the nation at the local, state, and federal level,” she said. “We would encourage any qualified applicant looking for an exciting career in law enforcement to consider a career with the Alaska State Troopers.”
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