In several parts of the country, public-sector employees, including police officers and other first responders, are required to get vaccinated against Covid-19. Most of the time, these folks do the smart and responsible thing.
But there are some exceptions, most notably with police officers who, for whatever reason, refuse to get protected during the pandemic — even if it means ending their careers in law enforcement. As NBC News reported, it appears these officers may have a new option in the Sunshine State.
Police officers who risk losing their job for not wanting to get vaccinated or make their vaccination status known may receive a $5,000 bonus to work in Florida. On Sunday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told Fox News that he wants out-of-state officers and sheriffs deputies to help patrol his state.
"We're actually actively working to recruit out-of-state law enforcement because we do have needs," the Republican governor said. "So in our next legislative session, I'm going to hopefully sign legislation that gives a bonus to any out-of-state law enforcement that relocates in Florida."
That "bonus," of course, will come in the form of taxpayer money.
Right off the bat, it's easy to recognize the political motivations for a move like this: DeSantis will almost certainly boast to Republican voters as he travels the nation, "Democrat mayors didn't want these officers, but I did!"
What's more, while the official line from the governor's office is that he's a vaccine proponent, the Republican's superficial support for vaccines is increasingly difficult to take seriously — especially as his handpicked state surgeon general embraces the role of "Covid crank."
But let's not brush past the casual application of DeSantis' purported principles.
Over the summer, for example, the governor's administration targeted educators who wanted to create policies to protect kids in schools during the pandemic. It didn't matter that their proposals were well intentioned and likely to make a difference during a public-health crisis, DeSantis' team said, all that mattered was that the governor had issued an edict and educators had no choice but to follow his directive.
These public-sector employees, the governor's administration said, could not be permitted to "pick and choose" which policies to honor based on merit. According to DeSantis and his team, educators who defied Florida's policies deserved to have their salaries cut.
Two months later, police officers who wanted to pick and choose which policies to follow in their communities may soon be eligible for $5,000 to move to Florida.
In other words, as Florida's Republican governor sees is, educators who take Covid seriously should be punished, and first responders who failed to take Covid seriously should be rewarded.
If there's a compelling defense for this, I can't think of it.
Update: DeSantis argued yesterday that his recruiting efforts weren't specifically in reference to unvaccinated officers from outside Florida. But the transcript of his on-air comments makes clear that he was referring to vaccine requirements.