RIVERSIDE (CBSLA) - Workplace vaccine mandates have been a flashpoint for some, with some potential employees pushing back at the idea, though one local police department without COVID vaccine requirements has seen some benefits.
According to Sg. Juan Muñoz, who works in personnel services for the Riverside Police Department, there are a number of reasons applicants might want to work for the department.
"It's a very metropolitan Surf City. We have a lot of resources at our department. We have a low cost of living," said Sgt. Muñoz.
Over the years at the department, recruitment has been steady, with a few hires here and there to balance out officers going into retirement. However, Sgt. Muñoz said he's seen a big shift, adding that the number of applicants inquiring about lateral transfers to Riverside PD went up drastically since about October 2021. He said it all started with one question.
"The first question we got was if we had a vaccine mandate," Muñoz said.
The answer is no, and the department doesn't ask or keep track of whether new hires are vaccinated, according to the sergeant.
As of last week, 82% of officers with the Los Angeles Police Department were fully vaccinated, with 17% or a little over 2,000, who were not and were, therefore, ineligible to continue working. Many of these officers from the LA, Orange County and San Diego are in the same boat and have turned to Riverside PD.
"This is the product of one background investigation," said Muñoz.
As of now, there are 11 lateral officers, most of whom are fleeing vaccine mandates, going through a background check. Muñoz said the best part about these applicants is that they're already trained.
"We can get a lateral to be here within 60 to 90 days of the day they arrive. It's a really expedited process," he said.
Sgt. Muñoz did point that just because the city doesn't have a vaccine mandate does not mean that the department is anti-vaccine.
"We encourage every employee who wants to be vaccinated to get vaccinated," he said.
It just so happens, though, that the city's lack of vaccine mandate is proving to be surprisingly useful recruiting tool.
"We are benefitting from the fact we don't have a vaccine mandate," Muñoz said.
Riverside Police Department has about 30 officer position open and applications are being taken year round.
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