Sheriff: New Vegas police hires have to get COVID-19 vaccine

August 19, 2021 GMT

LAS VEGAS (AP) — New Las Vegas police employees are being required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo told a newspaper.

The elected head of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and Republican candidate for governor told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in an interview that it was his duty to protect new hires by ensuring they’re inoculated against the coronavirus.

However, he said he had no plans to require the agency’s approximately 6,000 sworn and civilian employees to get shots.

The Las Vegas Police Protective Association, representing rank-and-file officers, has opposed mandatory vaccinations.

Lombardo said the department can mandate vaccinations for new employees because they are not yet under a union contract.

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As of Monday, 52% of full-time and part-time department employees were fully vaccinated, Lombardo told the Review-Journal — up from what he called an “unacceptable” 34% in early April.

Regionally, about 49% of people ages 12 and older are fully vaccinated, according to state health officials.

Lombardo said the department has tried to educate officers about vaccines, including a video of a SWAT sergeant talking about being severely sickened by COVID-19 after expressing vaccine skepticism.

Four department employees and one retired employee have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, Lombardo said.