YAKIMA, WA - Although Governor Inslee mandated vaccinations for most state workers, he didn't deny any vaccine exemption requests from any Washington State Patrol (WSP) employee.
WSP accesses each vaccine exemption request on an individual basis within the agency said the communication director, Chris Loftis.
"There's a lot of misinformation out there," said Loftis, "The bottom line is... we're going to treat our own people with respect and dignity, even when we disagree."
WSP has 400 requests already, with more than 350 of them being for religious reason. As of Friday 9/10, they granted 200 of them.
The department is still working on job accommodations for those with accepted exemptions, but Loftis said it's been tough given their job description.
"We have a unique responsibility that we can't telework, we can't pull cars over, you can't investigate, and you can't do the things we have to do," said Loftis.
An employee can lose their job if accommodations aren't found, or if they reject the accommodation given, said Loftis in an email.
Loftis said he trusts his employees to make the right decision for themselves and families, but they must uphold the law.
"We're a public safety organization," said Loftis, "we're going to respect everyone's rights, but we are also going to follow the law."
Those who are exempt will no longer work on the front lines said Loftis.
WSP employees who are not exempt and still refuse the vaccine will lose their job on October 18th.
"It's hard to become a trooper, it's hard to recruit," said Loftis, "the last thing we want to see is anybody leave the agency."
Loftis said he worries as they are already have a hiring shortage.