Suffolk County, NY – Suffolk County officials are planning to take advantage of the chaos caused by New York City’s employee vaccine mandate by adding more than 700 new officers to the county’s ranks, to include cops who refused to comply with New York City’ Bill de Blasio’s directive to get the COVID-19 shot.
More than 9,000 New York City employees were placed on unpaid leave Monday morning for failing to comply with de Blasio’s vaccine mandate, his office has confirmed.
“Nine thousand people [were] placed on leave without pay today,” de Blasio’s spokesperson, Mitch Schwartz, confirmed Monday morning. “The rest are in various stages of having their accommodation requests reviewed. They can be at work.”
According to FOX News, thousands of New York City municipal workers called in sick on Monday – the first day the mandate went into effect.
Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association (PBA) Sergeant at Arms Michael Simonelli confirmed in an interview with FOX News that the county is looking to take in more than 700 new hires, and that they will welcome displaced and frustrated New York police officers with open arms.
“We believe in freedom of choice in Suffolk County,” Simonelli told FOX News. “We don’t have that mandate. We don’t have that self-imposed disaster that Mayor de Blasio has brought to New York, trying to mirror President Biden’s self-imposed disaster in Afghanistan.”
“We welcome our brother and sister officers from New York City to come on out to Suffolk,” he said. “We welcome the wealth of knowledge and experience coming out from New York City.”
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, a Democrat, has denounced calls to defund the police, much to the chagrin of his political party, the New York Post reported.
“This is the largest one-year increase in law enforcement personnel in Suffolk County history,’’ Bellone confirmed on Monday.
The new positions will be added over the course of the next 12 months, WNYW reported.
Bellone said 426 of the 705 new hires will become members of the Suffolk County Police Department.
Twenty will become probation officers, 146 will become correction officers, and 77 will become sheriff’s deputies, he added.
Ten percent of the new hires will also speak Spanish.
Bellone said that by adding even more law enforcement officers than the county had prior to the pandemic, he hopes to maintain the area’s status as being one of the nation’s safest suburban counties, the New York Post reported.
Simonelli noted that “Defund the Police” practices have contributed to skyrocketing crime rates across the U.S.
“The murder rate in America had the single largest annual increase in 2020 in 60 years,” he told FOX News. “People are seeing that their neighborhoods are being destroyed. It’s no longer safe to go out.”
When de Blasio was elected in 2017, only approximately 24 percent of eligible voters turned out at the polls, the union representative noted.
“People need to go to the polls,” Simonelli told FOX News. “They need to reject this far-left ‘Defund the Police’ movement.”
De Blasio announced the mandate on Oct. 20, noting that the city had eliminated the testing option that city workforce had previously been given and would require everyone to show proof they had been vaccinated, WABC reported.
“We need to save lives, and we do it with vaccinations,” the mayor said at a press briefing.
He said employees would receive an extra $500 in their paycheck if they get their first shot at a city-run vaccination clinic between Oct. 20 and 5 p.m. on Oct. 29, WABC reported.
De Blasio said that city employees who did not comply with the order to get at least their first shot before the deadline would be put on unpaid administrative leave.
He said their future employment with the city would depend on what happened in negotiations with labor unions, WABC reported.
Despite pushback on vaccinate mandates by law enforcement officers nationwide, the mayor said it was the responsibility of public employees to get vaccinated to protect citizens, WNBC reported.
“The vaccine is what has allowed us to fight back against COVID and save tens of thousands of lives. And there’s still a lot of city employees who are not vaccinated,” de Blasio said. “I want to protect them. I want to protect their families. I want to protect all the people that they come in contact within this city.”
“Law enforcement has borne the brunt of COVID,” the mayor continued. “In this nation in the last two years, 460 law enforcement officers have been lost to COVID. We’ve got to protect them.”
“This vaccine mandate allows us to do that,” he added.