“It’s an argument about freedom, about constitutional rights and civil liberties, something that I’ve spent most of my adult life protecting for other people and are being taken away from me,” Richard Thompson explained.
The couple filed a religious exemption request, but it was denied by the state after being approved initially.
“We both have filed for moral and religious exception. We were both granted them, along with hundreds of other state patrol employees, according to our HR policy,” Richard explained. “But then we were told that there would be no accommodation made for us based on the governor’s state HR and what they decided.”
“Accommodations that were made to available to school teachers, for instance, in the state of Washington, were not made available to the rest of the executive branch employees, which was unfair,” he added.
Celina Thompson highlighted the growing concern surrounding staffing issues as police departments grapple with dwindling numbers and rampant crime.
“I know for dispatch we have eight centers in the in the state of Washington for state patrol and just our center alone in Vancouver, we handle five counties,” Celina explained. “And we’re going from 17 dispatchers and we’re going to be down to eight.
“That means that our units are being placed on emergency priority traffic and our communications will go to a different center at night because we just don’t have the staffing so that scares me for officer safety.”
Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington, signed an executive order over the summer which required the vaccine for all government workers and contractors. The mandate went into effect on October 18.
The mandate has garnered significant backlash and is one of the strictest in the United States. It does not allow for a frequent testing alternative, unlike many states, in lieu of taking the shot.