‘It’s not an order of the mayor,’ Denver officials listed in lawsuit respond

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DENVER (KDVR) – Multiple police officers with the Denver Police Department filed a lawsuit Thursday against the mandatory vaccination of city employees.  

According to court documents, Jonathan Christian, Dewayne Rodgers, Bart Stark, Rich Ziegler, Nick Elliott, David Curtis and Les Tucker have filed an injunction against the city just one week before the city’s vaccination mandate goes into effect.  

“I find it selfish folks would file an injunction one week out maybe enticing other employees to follow and wait for them in what the court says,” Mayor Michael Handcock said.  

The City of Denver, Hancock, Bob McDonald with the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment and Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen, are all listed as defendants in the court paperwork.  

“It’s a public health order. It’s not an order of the mayor. It’s a public health order with the objective of saving lives,” Hancock said.  

The court documents list that the officers find the mandate to be void: “Defendant Pazen enforced the Aug. 2 Order. After having his unvaccinated police officers working in the trenches of a pandemic for roughly 18 months, Defendant Pazen required all Denver Police Department personnel to be fully compliant to the Aug. 2 Order by Sept. 30, 2021.”  

Mayor Hancock said the vaccine mandate isn’t in place to take away jobs from anyone but he said the filed injunction does worry him because DPD is already facing shortages.  

“We right now are understaffed in our police department and we don’t want to be further understaffed with regards to our police department,” Hancock said.  

He said the city is proud of the overall 92% of city employees who have complied and completed their vaccination proof requirements.  

“I would encourage employees who have yet to upload their vaccination or exemption to do everything you can to have at least Johnson & Johnson or your first shot by Sept. 30,” Hancock said.  

The mayor said since police interact daily with the public, the vaccine needs to happen.  

“It’s the public we serve. We are sworn to serve and protect those who pay our salaries. We need to do everything we can to protect them when we come in contact with them,” Hancock said.  

The mayor said he is confident their order will hold up in court.  

“For over 100 years case law has proven time and time again in the midst of a public health crisis had the ability and authority to issue vaccine mandates and that’s what were following especially when were trying to save lives,” Handcock said.  

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