Chicago Chief: ‘Unvaccinated Cops Face Denied Retirement Benefits’
21:00 GMT 18.10.2021 (Updated: 13:25 GMT 06.08.2022)
© AP Photo / Nam Y. HuhIn this Friday, Aug. 13, 2021, photo Sheriff's Police Sgt. Bonnie Busching tests a virtual meeting with a tablet at the Cook County Sheriff's Office in Chicago. The Cook County Sheriff's Office has started putting people having a crisis face to face with mental health professionals before they lash out at deputies or try to harm themselves and to do it they're taking a page out of countless businesses forced hold their meeting virtually.
© AP Photo / Nam Y. Huh
On Thursday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot reportedly warned officers who defy the city’s vaccine mandate will not be paid — and could risk being disciplined or fired if they failed to show up for work.
The Chicago Police Department’s top chief has put into writing a warning to fire officers who refuse to comply with the city’s COVID-19 vaccination policy and deny retirement benefits to officers who choose to retire from the job rather than adhere to the policy, according to the Chicago Tribune.
In a memo sent Sunday, Chicago Police Superintendent David O. Brown reportedly said that officers who do choose to retire rather than comply “may be denied retirement credentials.”
The city of Chicago and its largest police union are in dispute over a requirement that workers report their vaccination status by Friday.
“Workers who do not tell the city their status will be contacted so the city can give them the benefit of the doubt,” Lightfoot said.
“But, within a few days, those who didn’t comply will be placed on a no-pay status. In the meantime, they should still report to work until a supervisor says otherwise, or they risk discipline and even being fired,” Lightfoot added.
“No employee should abandon their post,” Lightfoot stated. “Not showing up creates a whole other set of issues for them.”
In a standoff, the Fraternal Order of Police reportedly posted instructions on its website about what officers should do if given a direct order to report their vaccination status on the city’s portal. This time, it posted a letter that officers can sign and present to their superiors.
"Complying with this INVALID order and the violation of MY Bargaining, Constitutional and Civil Rights has furthermore caused me severe anxiety while challenging both my religious and moral beliefs. I am in fact complying with this because I am being forced to do so under complete duress and threats of termination,” the document on the website reads.
Last week, FOP President John Catanzara said that if officers were turned away, the city would have a police force "at 50% or less for this weekend coming up," in a video shared on YouTube Tuesday.
Catanzara threatened to take Mayor Lightfoot's administration to court if she enforced the mandate, instructed officers to file for exemptions to receiving vaccines and urged officers to not fill out portal information. "I do not believe the city has the authority to mandate that to anybody, let alone that information about your medical history," he said.
First Deputy Police Superintendent Eric Carter reportedly said officers who failed to meet Friday’s deadline could face termination, unless they have an approved medical or religious exemption. Those who weren’t vaccinated by Friday will be required to get tested twice a week at their own expense and time until the end of the year.