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Judge denies NYPD union's bid to halt COVID vaccine mandate

New York City workers protest vaccine mandate
New York City workers protest COVID vaccine mandate 02:09

A Staten Island judge denied a police union's request to temporarily halt the implementation of the city's vaccine mandate that is set to take effect November 1.

The Police Benevolent Association, New York City's largest police union, had argued in their request for a temporary restraining order on Monday 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 have been submitted by Wednesday — one week after the mandate was announced. 

Additionally, they noted that the department's "Vax or Test" program has been effective in ensuring public health while simultaneously providing privacy to individual medical decisions.

"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 plans on filing an immediate appeal to the ruling. The NYPD could not immediately be reached for comment. 

The union called the mandate "arbitrary and capricious" in court documents. It is the first such legal action taken against the mandate since it was announced last week by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The policy requires police officers, firefighters and other municipal workers get at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by Friday or be placed on unpaid leave. Correctional officers on Rikers Island — a New York City prison that has been grappling with staffing shortages and unsafe conditions — will be subject to the mandate on December 1.

The NYPD's vaccination rate has lagged behind the rest of the city — as of Tuesday, the NYPD's vaccination rate is 73%, compared with the 78.2% of adults who have been vaccinated in New York City. The PBA, which represents over 24,000 current NYPD officers, contends that getting the vaccine is a personal medical decision.

The NYPD has about 36,000 officers and about 19,000 civilian staff employees.

More than 60 NYPD employees have died of COVID-19, and, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, COVID-19 has been the number one cause of death of law enforcement officials in 2020 and 2021.

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