NEW YORK — NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea has made a last-ditch plea to his unvaccinated members, imploring them to get a COVID shot before they are sent home without pay.
“We’re at the end of the wire here,” Shea said in a four-minute video sent to all NYPD employees on Wednesday. “By Friday you’re supposed to be vaccinated. Starting on Monday, you will be put in a no pay status.”
Shea said unvaccinated cops should show up for their Saturday and Sunday shifts but by Monday all bets are off.
The city’s five police unions estimate some 10,000 cops will be pulled from the city streets.
“On Monday when this thing really starts being enforced we’re going to check your vaccination status and if you’re not vaccinated you will get no pay and you’re going to be not able to work,” Shea said. “I don’t think anyone wants that to happen. I’m sure you don’t want that to happen. I certainly don’t.”
Those hoping to avoid the jab on religious or health grounds had until Wednesday to put their request in, Shea said. If a cop puts their reasonable accommodation request in after Wednesday, it will be reviewed but they will still be sent home with no pay until the request is decided upon.
“Please take advantage of the next couple of days and get vaccinated,” Shea said, admitting Wednesday that he still didn’t have any answers on how the no pay status will affect health benefit and pensions. “We need you out there.”
As of Thursday morning, 76% of the NYPD has been vaccinated against COVID-19, leaving almost a quarter of the force facing unemployment. On Wednesday, a judge shot down a lawsuit by the city’s largest police union to block the mandate.
The city is unprepared for the staffing shortfall, Pat Lynch, head of the NYPD’s largest union, the Police Benevolent Association, said Thursday.
“New York City cannot afford to have a police department that is weak, disorganized and totally dominated by the irrational whims of City Hall,” Lynch said. “Commissioner Shea and his team should have told the Mayor that this mandate and his arbitrary Friday deadline were going to throw NYPD operations into chaos. Instead, they froze like deer in headlights.”
Paul DiGiacomo, the president of the Detectives Endowment Association, said the current program where unvaccinated NYPD members were being tested weekly was working, making the mandate unnecessary.
“While New York City is in the middle of a crime crisis, Mayor de Blasio wants to sideline hundreds of detectives just to play politics,” DiGiacomo said. “Our detectives already worked selflessly through 2020, during the height of the pandemic when there was no vaccine. Now the mayor shows his thanks by wanting to sideline thousands of cops when we know the testing program was working.”
“Our members are needed to investigate the most heinous of crimes,” he added. “Investigations will ultimately be stalled and violent offenders will go free.”
By Wednesday, the FDNY was just 68% vaccinated and preparing for a 20% staffing shortage come Monday.
Like the NYPD, unvaccinated firefighters, EMTs and paramedics will be able to work Saturday and Sunday but will be told not to come to work Monday.
FDNY leadership has held virtual meetings with uniformed staff explaining the vaccine mandate and imploring them to comply. That effort will continue after the mandate deadline, officials said.
Since the department doesn’t know how many people will be vaccinated by Friday, it was not immediately clear how many firehouses could be shuttered.
The department already has a “net of coverage” plan in place so firehouses in neighboring houses will put out blazes in areas where firehouses are closed, FDNY officials said.
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