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Acting St. Louis County police chief extends vaccine rules to police amid suit

Acting St. Louis County police chief extends vaccine rules to police amid suit

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CLAYTON — Acting St. Louis County police Chief Kenneth Gregory issued a special order Thursday evening clarifying that police department employees must follow a county requirement to get the COVID-19

vaccine or submit to weekly testing.

The special order came one day before a scheduled court hearing over a legal challenge filed by a county police officer that argued county COVID-19 requirements should not apply to police employees.

Officer Jared Lindeman filed a request Sept. 30 for a temporary restraining order, asking a judge to suspend the requirement for police.

The suit argued that the County Council and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page alone do not have the authority to enact employee requirements for the police department, which is primarily governed by the chief and the St. Louis County Board of Police Commissioners.

The police board currently is made up of four civilians appointed by Page with approval from the County Council. A fifth board seat is vacant.

A hearing on the request set for Friday was canceled after Gregory issued the special order instructing police employees to follow the requirement.

Lindeman’s attorney, Christopher Graville, said Friday that he is reviewing the order to decide how to proceed with Lindeman’s lawsuit.

Lindeman has been a police officer with the county since 2008. He contracted COVID-19 in October 2020 and recovered from it but has not been vaccinated, according to court documents.

The county employee mandate was approved by the council Sept. 14 in a 4-3 vote along party lines with the council’s Democratic members voting in favor. The county rule went into effect on Oct. 1.

Neither the county rule nor Gregory’s order for the police department specifies what, if any, repercussions employees would face if they do not comply.

The county police union, the St. Louis County Police Association, has come out in opposition to extending the vaccine requirement to police.

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