Judge: NYPD COVID Vaccine Mandate Not Optional

Judge: NYPD COVID Vaccine Mandate Not Optional

A federal judge shot down the New York Police Department’s () largest union’s temporary restraining order against Mayor de Blasio’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate with no test-out option.

The Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York (NYC PBA) wanted to delay the mandate’s implementation. NYC PBA representatives argued that the policy doesn’t touch on religious or medical exemptions. They also said that the compliance deadline didn’t give unvaccinated officers enough time to request an exemption.

In fact, the deadline to submit appeals passed yesterday.

An Ultimatum for Police Officers?

The NYC PBA emphasized their willingness to continue the “Vax or Test” program. The program requires unvaccinated officers to receive weekly COVID tests. NYC PBA noted that the program has ensured public health while protecting freedom of choice in medical care.

As CBS News reports, the union’s response to the ruling was dire:

“Today’s ruling sets the city up for a real crisis. The haphazard rollout of this mandate has created chaos in the NYPD,” PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said in a statement. “City Hall has given no reason that a vaccine mandate with a weekly testing option is no longer enough to protect police officers and the public, especially while the number of COVID-19 cases continues to fall.

The union filed an appeal Thursday afternoon at 2:44 pm ET.

As it stands, unvaccinated officers have until Nov. 1 to comply. Already, the Big Apple has a shortage of street cops and firefighters.

Impasse Could Bring About Disaster

Nevertheless, city hall is pushing forward despite the real possibility of a shortage in first responders. Mayor de Blasio has cited the swearing in of 400 new, fully-vaccinated officers last week. He’s also expressed confidence in the department’s ability to shift assignments to meet criminal threats in the city.

SEE ALSO: New York City’s Vaccine Passport Threatens to Leave African Americans Behind

However, his vaccine incentive program for New York’s 160,000 city workers has fallen flat despite the promise of a $500 bonus to municipal workers who receive their shots.

NBC New York adds:

When questioned about the projected overtime costs these schedule changes would mean to the city, de Blasio said: “I want to note, we’re not looking at this from the budgetary perspective, we’re looking at this from how to keep people safe, how we end the COVID era, how we turn the corner in the biggest crisis in our history. That’s our focus. Obviously, I’d like everyone to get vaccinated by the end of Friday. If they don’t they’re going off payroll. I don’t want those savings, but it does create a savings and if we have to give out more overtime to balance there will obviously resources to account for that.”

During her own press conference, Gov. Kathy Hochul said the state is ready to assist the city if they find themselves with a shortage of first responders.

Staffing Crisis Goes Beyond NYPD

Yet as of Oct. 16, roughly 30% of the NYPD’s workforce, about 16,500 cops, remain unvaccinated. Worst still, nearly 45% of the firefighters on the New York City Fire Department () remain unvaccinated. (RELATED: Unvaccinated Chicago Police Officers’ Jobs, Retirement Benefits Threatened)

Like the NYPD’s largest union, the FDNY-Uniformed Firefighters Association wants “Vax or Test” to continue.

The Uniformed Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro is already warning city hall about an impending catastrophe, saying that as many as 20% of all fire companies may close, taking 20% of the FDNY’s ambulances off the road.

Speaking at a protest last Thursday, Ansbro said “They will be closing fire houses if you don’t have enough firefighters to staff them and that’s absolutely what’s going to happen if you send 30% of the fire department home,”

Ansbro added that de Blasio’s policy was an “unnecessary threat” to New York City’s 8.8 million residents.

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