This week, I filed a brief in support of a suit filed by 200 City of Gainesville employees, including police officers, against the local government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The mandate requires every city employee to be vaccinated or risk losing their job. I joined Gov. Ron DeSantis at a news conference to speak out against this unlawful mandate and to voice support for our brave law enforcement officers.
This is not about whether to get a COVID-19 vaccine or not. I’m vaccinated, and I encourage every eligible Floridian to talk with their families and medical providers about receiving the vaccine. However, local governments forcing compliance by our first responders—our law enforcement—is wrong, unlawful and threatens public safety.
Following national trends, Florida is facing staffing shortages in law enforcement. Many officers have retired or left the profession, and agencies are trying to fill those vacancies. Forcing officers out of their jobs over a vaccine exacerbates the retention and recruitment issues and, frankly, makes our state less safe.
Fewer officers on patrol and on the job can lead to longer emergency response times—benefitting no one but criminals. Firing essential first responders over such a personal medical decision is the last thing we should do—more importantly, it violates Florida law.
To read more about the brief filed in the Darris Friend, et al. v. City of Gainesville case, click here.
We’ve trusted our police officers and sheriff’s deputies to keep us safe, and we should trust them to make personal decisions about their own safety.
As your Attorney General, know that I’m in your corner, standing up against this egregious overreach of power and fighting to build a Stronger, Safer Florida.
Ashley Moody is attorney general of Florida.