Judge Tells NYPD the Vaccine Is Not Optional

Judge Tells NYPD the Vaccine Is Not Optional
Officer chin-mask phones a friend. (Photo: Cindy Ord, Getty Images)

Oh no — some of New York City’s, uhh, finest may be forced to join their rage-quitting compatriots over in Washington state and stop being cops rather than get the coronavirus vaccine, as on Wednesday a Staten Island judge ruled against the New York Police Department union’s effort to stop a mandate for municipal workers.

According to CBS News, the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) — which is well-known for its embrace of reactionary politics — argued in court on Monday for a temporary restraining order against the vaccine mandate, which they argued did not make clear what religious or medical exemptions officers could apply for or give them long enough to submit them. The union also argued the current policy under which officers must get vaccinated or regularly tested for the virus is sufficient. The judge in the case denied the request, effectively clearing the mandate to go into effect by November 1.

Municipal workers who have not been vaccinated by that date will be required to go on unpaid leave. Or perhaps they could follow the lead of over 100 Washington State Police employees who resigned or were fired for refusing to comply with a similar mandate for Washington state workers earlier this month. Some of the ex-WSP officers staged a melodramatic protest in which they laid their patrol hats on the steps of the State Capitol as though they died or something, while one recorded a sign-off video that went viral on right-wing media.

The PBA has argued that getting the vaccine is a personal medical decision… one that many cops are saying no to. On Oct. 26, CBS reported that the NYPD’s 36,000 officers and 19,000 other staff have a vaccination rate of just 73%, compared to 78.2% of all adult New Yorkers. This is despite the fact that the municipal government has bent over backward to incentivise employees to do so, offering them $US500 ($663) bonuses if they get a shot at a city-run site by Oct. 29.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, has begged police to get vaccinated and pointed out that covid-19 is, far and away, the biggest cop-killer in the nation. Over 60 employees of the NYPD have died of the coronavirus, according to CBS, which one could fairly point out is the kind of death toll that would have the PBA screaming for martial law if the culprit was criminals instead.

In a statement to CBS, PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said, “Today’s ruling sets the city up for a real crisis. The haphazard rollout of this mandate has created chaos in the NYPD. 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 police union isn’t the only one angry about having to get the jab, which is safe, effective, and dramatically lowers the odds of suffering severe medical complications or dying from the virus. According to Reuters, the head of the main NYC firefighters union, Andrew Ansbro, said on Wednesday that he had urged firefighters to defy the mandate and “told my members that if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they must still report for duty.” The city’s fire departments say just 68% of its 17,000 employees have been vaccinated, Reuters added.

As of press time, there was no word on how closely the Venn diagram of the 27% of NYPD employees who have yet to get vaccinated and the 26% of NYPD officers who live on Long Island resembles a circle.