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Spokane County Sheriff's Office looking to hire, reminds candidates that vaccines are optional

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich says he encourages deputies to get vaccinated and is vaccinated himself, but is opposed to Gov. Inslee's mandate.

SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. — The Spokane County Sheriff's Office (SCSO) is trying to hire more deputies and they want to remind candidates that COVID-19 vaccines are optional.

Employees at SCSO work for the county and are not state employees, so Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said the vaccine will not be required. Knezovich said he encourages deputies to get the vaccine, but doesn't think any first responder should lose their job over it. 

The message was included in a promotional video released by the SCSO.

“I’m vaccinated. I lead by example. I went out and got vaccinated. I have done multiple videos in this community with public health professionals trying to get people to get vaccinated. The one thing I am anti is these mandates,” Knezovich said.

The mandate required most state employees, health care workers and school employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 18, 2021 or risk losing their jobs. Washington State University's former head football coach Nick Rolovich was fired on Monday after his request for a religious exemption to the vaccine mandate was denied by the university. 

The mandate is currently one of the strictest in the country impacting thousands of workers. Employees can apply for a medical or religious exemption but there is no testing option, or a philosophical statement exemption option like it has for other required vaccines.

The sheriff's office hired 33 new deputies in the last six months. Knezovich said he needs another ten deputies immediately. He told KREM 2 his office has not received much interest from Washington State Patrol troopers, 74 of whom were fired on Monday after they refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

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