U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-1, questions a FLETC rule that forbids students receiving COVID-19 vaccine from leaving the Glynco campus.
The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center says the rule, put into effect after a COVID-19-forced break in training in August, is for the safety of students, staff and the community during the pandemic. It is only temporary and subject to review in about four months.
Carter isn’t buying it.
“The confining of all FLETC students, vaccinated and unvaccinated, is completely unnecessary,” Carter said. “I believe that by confining vaccinated students, it diminishes confidence in the vaccine itself.”
Carter, whose congressional district includes the training facility, received complaints about the lockdown from students and a former student. They complain that it is unfair to prevent them from leaving the base when instructors and other staff, as well as contractors, are free to come and go.
There are 1,745 trainees on the Glynco campus, all of whom are housed on base and all of whom are vaccinated. Being fully vaccinated was one of the conditions of their acceptance.
Carter sees the rule as counterproductive.
“We should be confident in the vaccine that our doctors and scientists have put so much time and effort in to developing, and this policy only goes to reduce incentive to get vaccinated,” Carter said.
FLETC Director Thomas Walters said the base has been working closely with Southeast Georgia Health System throughout the pandemic.
“We understand the stress the Delta variant and recent surge in cases has placed on our local hospital,” Walter said. “Preventing further strain on local medical resources played a critical part in our decision-making.”
The hospital in Brunswick has been overwhelmed at times by the number of COVID-19 cases requiring medical and intensive care. National Guardsmen were sent to the hospital by Gov. Brian Kemp to help lighten the heavy load of health care personnel during the most recent height of the pandemic.
FLETC is banking on its COVID policy sparing it from having to pause training like it did last month after 90 students tested positive for the virus.
So far it’s working. Since its implementation, the 120-day operational plan has allowed FLETC to avoid an interruption in training and graduate students on schedule, said Christa Crawford Thompson, Office of Public Affairs. By continuing its mission in a safe, secure and healthy training and working environment for students, staff, and contractors, FLETC is ensuring that it can provide the training necessary to replace the more than 20,000 federal law enforcement officers leaving the field through attrition each year, she said.