Vaccines are offered in Chula Vista. Photo by Chris S
A COVID-19 vaccination. Photo by Chris Stone

A lawsuit was announced Friday challenging the city of San Diego’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city employees, which has drawn opposition from local police officers and firefighters.

The lawsuit was described during a Friday press conference as litigation filed in support of hundreds of local first responders and city employees facing potential termination for noncompliance with the city’s mandate.

A spokesperson with San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria’s office declined comment and referred questions to the City Attorney’s Office, since it involved ongoing litigation. A City Attorney’s Office spokeswoman said, “We will review the complaint and respond through the court.”

Amy Bohn, president of Protection of the Educational Rights of Kids — or PERK — one of the groups behind the suit, called the mandate “coercion” and a “direct assault on (city employees’) freedoms,” which she said would have a major impact on public safety if unvaccinated officers and firefighters were terminated.

According to a San Diego Union-Tribune report from earlier this month, nearly 500 SDPD officers requested exemptions from the mandate, with the majority of the requests based on religious grounds. The local police union later filed a lawsuit alleging that officers were being unlawfully prohibited from recording their exemption request meetings with city staff.

SDPD K-9 Officer Jonathan Wiese, who was publicly hailed for his efforts to rescue two toddlers from an overturned vehicle in the waters off Sunset Cliffs in 2020, spoke at Friday’s press conference in support of the lawsuit.

Referencing the Sunset Cliffs rescue, Wiese said, “I don’t know, nor can I think of any parent, who would care about my vaccination status when that happened.”

Wiese said, “This mandate has got to stop. Otherwise, we will no longer be America’s Finest City.”

City News Service contributed to this article.

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