(Bloomberg) -- Nearly a third of New York Police Department cops are unvaccinated against Covid-19 ahead of the city’s Friday deadline.
The Police Benevolent Association, which represents 24,000 cops in the most populous U.S. city, said 10,000 of the roughly 35,000 uniformed NYPD officers have not gotten the shot. Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio eliminated the test-out option and said all city employees must receive their first vaccine dose by Oct. 29 or face unpaid leave.
The union is fighting the mandate in court, but a judge has refused to block it in the meantime. It’s not clear what effect the drop in staff will have on the operations of the nation’s largest police force, but de Blasio on Thursday sought to assure New Yorkers they will be safe.
“We had a lot of times, in 2020, where we had huge shortages of personnel because people were out sick with Covid, and the NYPD kept things moving and they will again,” de Blasio said at a virus briefing. “I’m quite confident in their ability to do that.”
De Blasio had said earlier Thursday that the NYPD was 74% vaccinated, but did not break those numbers down between uniformed officers and other staff. It has about 55,000 total employees.
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Patrick Lynch, the PBA president, sought to cast the looming deadline and the potential staffing shortages as a prelude to chaos in the city. He called the department “weak, disorganized and totally dominated by the irrational whim of City Hall,” in a statement.
The battle over vaccine requirements between police unions and city governments is playing out across the U.S. Union presidents in Chicago and Los Angeles have also resisted their city’s mandates.
Covid-19 was the leading cause of death for officers in 2020, and is this year as well. So far in 2021, 250 cops have died from the virus, five times the number killed by gunfire, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, a nonprofit that tracks officer deaths.
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