NYC police union: Judge's denial of vaccine mandate pause sets up potential for crisis, chaos

A Staten Island judge on Wednesday rejected a motion by a New York City police union to block a city order requiring nearly all municipal workers to be vaccinated by the end of this week.

After a virtual hearing, Supreme Court Judge Lizette Colon denied a temporary restraining order the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York (NYC PBA) sought. Colon cited a similar lawsuit filed by New York City teachers against the city’s Board of Education as well as a case against the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The NYC PBA filed the lawsuit on Tuesday after saying last week that it would challenge the city’s order. In the filing, the union, as well as individual members who joined the lawsuit, said the city was ignoring the evidence of the “vax or test policy” that was already in place.

“The vaccine mandate relies on generalized findings that do not support the draconian imposition of the vaccine mandate on all police officers in the NYPD,” the complaint stated.

In a statement after Colon’s ruling, NYC PBA President Patrick Lynch said that it sets up the potential of “a real crisis” for the city.

Further, he said the mandate will lead to fewer cops on the street when the mandate takes effect next week.

“The haphazard rollout of this mandate has created chaos in the NYPD,” Lynch said. “City Hall has given no reason that a vaccine mandate with a weekly testing option is no longer enough to protect police officer and the public, especially while the number of COVID-19 cases continues to fall.”

After creating mandates for healthcare and education workers, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last week that a new order would cover most remaining city workers, with the exception of most uniformed corrections officers.

Under the new order, workers have to show proof of receiving at least one COVID-19 vaccination shot by 5 p.m. Friday. Starting on Monday, those who did not get vaccinated or receive an exemption for medical reasons or religious beliefs will be placed on unpaid leave.

The deadline to file for a religious or medical exemption was Wednesday.

The police officers union isn’t the only labor organization fighting the mandate. Firefighters are expected to protest in front of Gracie Mansion Thursday morning.

There were also reports of garbage not being picked up in southern Brooklyn and Staten Island. During his press availability Wednesday morning, de Blasio said the city will address the issue with the sanitation workers’ union.

He also said he expected to see an uptick in vaccinations, especially on Friday.

The mayor also said he expects the city’s fire, police and emergency medical departments to be ready to deal with any worker shortages next week. They know “how to make the right moves,” he said, through their experiences in managing crises.

“Remember, our first responder agencies, our uniformed agencies went through so much last year where they had huge numbers of members out because of COVID, and they had to keep making constant adjustments to provide the services we need to keep people safe,” de Blasio said. “And they did it, and they did it very well.”

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