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Judge dismisses Denver police officers’ challenge to city vaccine mandate

Seven officers claimed that the city did not have the authority to impose the mandate

Medical assistant Jessica Gaston draws a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination clinic for residents of zip code 80010 and existing refugee patients at Ardas Family Medicine in The Mango House in Aurora, Colorado on Thursday, March 4, 2021. (Eli Imadali, Special to The Colorado Sun)

A judge on Wednesday dismissed an attempt by a group of Denver police officers to block the city’s vaccine mandate a day before it’s set to take effect.

In a lawsuit filed last week, seven officers claimed that the city did not have the authority to impose the mandate under a local disaster emergency declared by Mayor Michael Hancock at the beginning of the pandemic, noting that Democratic Gov. Jared Polis rescinded his statewide emergency pandemic order in July. They claim the city should have instead followed the more drawn out process laid out in state law to impose regulations.

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However, Judge Shelley Gilman ruled that law only applies to state agencies. Under city law, the officers should have appealed the vaccine mandate, first issued on Aug. 2, at the city level before filing a lawsuit, she said. Since they did not, Gilman said she had no jurisdiction to decide the case and dismissed it.

Under the city’s public health order, updated Sept. 1, all city employees, workers in public and private schools and people who work for private employers such as hospitals, homeless shelters, childcare centers must show proof that they are vaccinated by Thursday. City workers face dismissal if they do not comply.


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