New York City In A Bind With Police And Fire Departments Over Vaccine Mandates

The city of New York may be looking down the barrel of losing over 30% of both its fire department and its police forces after the 29th of October in the wake of a mandate that will forcibly put the officers and firefighters on unpaid leave if they do not fall in line and go and get at least their first does of the various COVID-19 vaccines.

“New York City took one of its most aggressive steps yet to increase vaccination rates in a city that was once the epicenter of the pandemic, requiring almost every member of the nation’s largest municipal workforce to get vaccinated by the end of the month or lose their paychecks,” reported The New York Times this past week.

“The new mandate by Mayor Bill de Blasio, following similar requirements for teachers and health care workers that led to a surge in vaccinations, is intended to persuade thousands of city workers who have resisted getting the shot to do so before the winter,” continued the news source.

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In an estimate put forth by Quartz, roughly “6,500 New York Police Department (NYPD) employees—or roughly 30% of the agency’s total workforce of 36,000 officers and 19,000 civilians—who have so far refused to get vaccinated.”

In a statement sent out Wednesday, the union representing Firefights in New York City issued a warning that the percentages would be very similar for the city’s 911 dispatchers, fire department, and other various emergency medical technicians.

As of yet, these worst-case options concerning vaccine mandate compliance have not come to happen when looking at various other cities with similar requirements.

One of the first municipalities to institute such a mandate over the objections of unions, Chicago, was quaking in its boots as it waited for a very similar walk-off, but it resulted in only 21 officers being placed on unpaid leave for not reporting the status of their vaccinations to officials of the city. Chicago went on to state that currently only around 67% of police employees have managed to report their vaccination statuses and about 80% have received at least one dose of their vaccines, as reported by the Associated Press.

New York has gone even further than other cities to incentivize getting the vaccine in time by adding a “vaccine bonus” of $500 for anyone who is able to get their vaccine and report it by the 29th of October.

A union for the NYPD is attempting to stop the enforcement of this new vaccine mandate by filing a suit to enjoin the city from enforcing its mandate, making note that before the mandate the city used a “vax or test” policy that the union stated was entirely adequate in order to preserve the public safety and that this new mandate does not allow for adequate time for the members of its union who would need to apply for medical or religious exemptions to get the needed paperwork.

“The Police Benevolent Association argues that the policy does not make clear potential exceptions for medical or religious reasons, and does not give unvaccinated officers sufficient time to apply for such exemptions, as those appeals must be submitted by Wednesday — one week after the mandate was announced,” reported CBS News.

“NYPD police officers are not a major source of transmission of COVID-19. Almost a third of the police force already has immunity due to prior COVID-19 infection,” states the lawsuit. “Police officers have not suddenly become a public health risk.”

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