Police resistance to COVID vaccine mandate could impact public safety: Report

Like many other Democratic politicians, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) has mandated that her city’s first responders be vaccinated against COVID-19.

However, her mandate has led to a growing conflict with a police union that represents a majority of Chicago law enforcement officers, and some worry that the vaccine mandate could have an impact on public safety in a city that already struggles with out-of-control violence on a daily basis. 

According to The Hill, CNN obtained a memo that warned Chicago police officers will face consequences if they flout the city’s vaccination requirement.

Steep consequences

Among the possible consequences is the risk of being terminated, as well as losing access to their law enforcement pension if they leave the police force after having refused to get vaccinated.

According to the memo, vaccine-hesitant officers “will become the subject of a disciplinary investigation that could result in a penalty up to and including separation from the Chicago Police Department.”

“Furthermore, sworn members who retire while under disciplinary investigations may be denied retirement credentials,” the memo added. The Hill noted that Lightfoot first announced the vaccine policy in August, and set an Oct. 15 deadline for compliance.

“Getting vaccinated has been proven to be the best way to achieve that and make it possible to recover from this devastating pandemic,” Lightfoot said at the time.

The Democratic mayor added: “And so, we have decided to join other municipalities and government agencies across the nation, including the U.S. military, who are making this decision to protect the people who are keeping our cities and country moving.”

Find another job?

However, many on the police force are not thrilled with the idea of being forced to receive the COVID-19 vaccination in order to stay employed, with Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara particularly vocal on the issue.

WTTW reported that on Friday, Cook County Judge Cecilia Horan took the extraordinary step of ordering Catanzara to stop publicly denigrating Lightfoot’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, which many believe to be a clear violation of Catanzara’s First Amendment rights.

The outlet also reported that Lightfoot has railed against police officers who refuse to disclose whether or not they have been vaccinated, declaring on Friday that they “should walk to another police department,” if they refuse to comply or share their vaccination status.

The departure of police officers from the Chicago Police Department is likely to exacerbate an existing staffing shortage, especially as the increasingly dangerous city deals with rising rates of violent crime.

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