New York Top Cop Won't Impose Mandate Despite Less Than Half of Force Vaccinated

New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said Tuesday that while supports COVID-19 vaccine requirements, he will not issue an official mandate for police officers. Less than half of the force is fully inoculated against the virus.

During a morning appearance on local news station NY1 on Tuesday, Shea said that "in a perfect world" a vaccine mandate for police would come from the state or federal level, rather than from him. But if that were to happen, the police commissioner said he would "100 percent" support the move.

"There's just so much unnecessary loss [of life] in my opinion right now...We lost somebody last week that was an extremely healthy man that had at one point in his career not gotten sick for 17 years," he said. "Think about that. Never called in sick and 17 years and we lost him."

"I think everyone should be lining up to get it that hasn't gotten it yet," Shea added.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also stopped short of supporting a vaccine mandate for police, stating Tuesday that "we are looking at all alternatives," according to the Post. However, starting September 13, all New York City workers—including police—will be required to either submit proof of vaccination against the virus or submit to weekly COVID-19 testing.

Dermot Shea
New York City Police Commissioner Dermot F. Shea says he won't impose a vaccine mandate for NYPD employees despite less than half the force being vaccinated. Above, Shea speaks at a press conference in Times Square on May 8, 2021. David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

In the meantime, city police officials have begun cracking down on COVID-19 policies, warning that unvaccinated officers will face discipline if they do not wear a mask while on duty.

The NYPD has one of the lowest vaccination rates among city agencies, according to The New York Times. So far, less than half, or about 47 percent of the department's 36,000 uniformed and 15,000 civilian employees have been vaccinated.

In comparison, more than 54 percent of New York's Fire Department's employees and more than 60 percent of all Department of Education employees are vaccinated, the Times reported. On Monday, New York City public schools issued a mandate requiring all teachers and staff to receive at least one dose of the vaccine by September 27.

To encourage more police officers to get vaccinated, Shea has issued a series of personal pleas in recent weeks. On Friday, Shea emailed staff and noted that a total of 60 police coworkers have succumbed to the virus.

"In the past week, our NYPD family lost three more members to COVID-19, bringing to 60 the total number of our uniformed and civilian coworkers and friends taken by the pandemic," Shea wrote on Friday.

"This is an unthinkable tragedy, especially at a time when our city and nation are working so hard to escape the virus' grip," he said. "I implore each of you who is not vaccinated to please do so immediately. Do it for yourselves. Do it for your families. Do it for your colleagues and friends."

Newsweek contacted Shea for additional comment but did not hear back in time for publication.