CHICAGO — At a packed Chicago Police Union Hall, the officers tasked with serving and protecting the nation’s third-largest city were firm in their stance against the city’s vaccine mandate.
City officials have until Friday, Oct. 15 to report their vaccine status.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said city employees not fully vaccinated by Friday must be tested twice a week – on their own time and expense – or be placed on what she described as “no pay status.” But the police union is telling its members to ignore the mandate.
Dozens of Chicago police officers participated in a standing-room-only meeting with union leadership to discuss their opposition and possible next steps.
“There’s a lot of people that don’t want to put this in them,” said Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41st Ward). “They’re afraid of what the consequences are long-term.”
Napolitano, a former Chicago police officer, said he is worried that the city’s unbending vaccination deadline combined with the police officers’ widespread reluctance to comply will lead to large numbers of cops placed on unpaid leave.
“It’s going to impact the entire city of Chicago and crime is going to increase,” Napolitano said. “If you think for one second criminals don’t know this, you’ve got another thing coming. You’ll see it Saturday night.”
Ald. Nicholas Sposato (38th Ward) also attended the meeting, urging Lightfoot to repeal the mandate.
“I find it hard to believe we could take a chance like that,” Sposato said. “I’m just throwing these numbers out there. If 1,000 police officers don’t comply and 500 firemen and 500 10-01 workers, what are we going to do?”
The mayor says the answer is clear: cops should be vaccinated to protect themselves and protect the public.
“If you are not vaccinated, you are playing with your life, the life of your family, the life of your colleagues and the members of the public,” Lightfoot said.
At least four Chicago police officers have died of COVID-19. On Tuesday, the FOP announced that former president Dean Angelo died of complications with the virus.