Tennessee Gov. Lee new law enforcement recruit video features officers who fled Dem-run California, New Mexico
Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, up for re-election in November, released a new highway patrol recruitment video featuring law enforcement officers who fled Democrat-run California and New Mexico.
On Wednesday, Lee released a nationwide Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) recruitment video, renewing efforts to welcome out-of-state law enforcement officers. This comes about a year after the governor first launched a nationwide pitch last fall to relocate qualified law enforcement to Tennessee. Since then, 82 new troopers have joined the THP, including 25 officers from out of state, according to the governor’s office.
In the new video, titled "Join THP 2.0," Troopers Da’Juan Clark of New Mexico and Louis Celaya of California shared their experience moving to Tennessee to join the THP in 2022.
"Welcome to Tennessee. I have a great appreciation for the men and women that serve in law enforcement. And so, we are very grateful when folks like you make the decision to come to Tennessee," Lee says in the video, sat across from Clark and Celaya, who both now serve Middle Tennessee communities.
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"The thing that sold me on Tennessee are the people of Tennessee," Clark, who majored in criminal justice and became a New Mexico law enforcement officer after graduation, says. "This state – they have set a new bar for what it means to support an officer. Tennessee equips you like you wouldn’t believe. I have more uniforms than I know what to do with… I have more hats than I can wear."
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"The love for your kids — to relocate them to a place where you know that they’re going to be safe in the future," Celaya, who worked for the California Highway Patrol for 11 years, said, "And that’s why I ended up in Tennessee."
"The citizens of Tennessee will up to you, they’ll say ‘we love you,’ ‘God bless you,’ ‘we want to pray with you.’ Tennessee couldn’t be a greater place to do it. They look after both you and your family," Celaya added.
"To any officer in another state, if you’re thinking about coming to Tennessee, make that move. You will not regret it. This is the best place you can be. The support doesn’t stop," Clark said. "It’s not just a recruitment video. It’s real."
In November 2021, Lee published a video message appealing to law enforcement across the country – namely from the New York City Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, as officers with those agencies were subjected to COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
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The Tennessee governor said, "We won’t get between you and your doctor," and offered to help cover moving expenses for those willing to relocate to join the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
"In Tennessee, law enforcement officers get the respect they deserve, and we welcome qualified men and women from across the country to join our ranks," Lee said in a statement on Wednesday. "Take it from our THP troopers – if you want to live, work and raise a family in a community where you’ll be given full support, come to Tennessee."
The governor’s office says Tennesseans enjoy the lowest state and local tax burden per capita in the country. Additionally, the THP offers some of the most competitive benefits, including a full benefits package, a self-issued vehicle rather than a shared vehicle program, complimentary uniforms and equipment provided, and all fees for training academy paid for by the department.
In addition to recruitment efforts, Lee’s office outlined the governor’s "proven crime prevention investments to strengthen public safety and directly support law enforcement across Tennessee."
They include 100 additional Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers funded by the state; the creation of a $100 million Violent Crime Intervention Fund for law enforcement agencies across the state to invest in evidence-based programming and resources; $30 million to support recruitment and retention bonuses for out-of-state police officers seeking to move to Tennessee; and the expansion of state funding for law enforcement basic training and increasing the frequency of training for new recruits. Out-of-state law enforcement officials interested in joining the THP can learn more at www.joinTHP.org.