Twenty-one Chicago police officers have been placed into non-disciplinary no-pay status for failing to comply with the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate as of Tuesday, Police Superintendent David Brown announced.
All city employees — including members of the Chicago Police Department — had until last Friday to tell the city whether they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Those who are not can avoid discipline by agreeing to be tested twice a week, on their own time and at their own expense, until Dec. 31.
According to Brown, about 67% of officers have provided their vaccination status to the city, and of those 82% are vaccinated. But 21 officers have refused to share their vaccination status with the city.
“This is about officer safety,” he said. “We believe the work of either getting our employees to enter their information into the portal then provide twice-a-week testing will save lives.”
Beyond officer safety, Brown said this process also helps protect those in the community who interact with police.
The CPD has the lowest rate of compliance with the city’s vaccine mandate of all of the 15 city departments, according to data published Monday. Before a judge ordered him last week to stop bashing the vaccine mandate, Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara repeatedly called for officers to defy the city’s order.
The FOP has since asked that judge to recuse herself, and a hearing will be held on that motion Wednesday.
Brown said officers “should be able to rely on their union leadership for accurate information, and many have been misinformed.”
According to Brown, there’s a three-step process the department has gone through with officers who haven’t yet submitted their vaccination status information. First, officials sit with the officers and verify whether their information was intentionally or mistakenly not entered into the city portal.
Then, those who have intentionally refused to enter their information are sent to the CPD’s human resources department and are entered into no-pay status. Some officers at this point have decided to comply with the mandate, but those who do not are then sent to the Bureau of Internal Affairs and issued a direct order to provide their information.
“At each of these steps, most of the officers and civilians have decided to enter their information into the portal,” Brown said. “Twenty-one people have not and that’s all sworn (officers), I believe, and they are in no-pay status.”
Brown said there are still “several hundred if not a few thousand” officers who have not yet gone through this process.
Four CPD officers have died from COVID-19, and Brown on Tuesday called it the “No. 1 killer of police officers” in the country.
Brown also said he’s been personally touched by the virus. He said his first cousin was an “anti-vaxxer,” and that she, her husband and their daughter all died of COVID-19 last month.
“It’s professional and personal for me,” he said, “and I will say and do anything to save an officer’s life.”
Heather Cherone contributed to this report.