Chicago Police Accused of Pressure Tactics to Get Officers to Vaccinate

By Cara Ding
Cara Ding
Cara Ding
Cara is a Chicago-based Epoch Times reporter. She can be reached at cara.ding@epochtimes.com.
October 20, 2021 Updated: October 25, 2021

The Chicago Police Department ordered a number of police officers to go through a three-step, high-pressure procedure to force vaccine compliance, according to Mike Mette, first vice president of Chicago’s largest police union.

Under Chicago’s vaccine mandate, all city workers had to report their vaccination status through an online portal by Oct. 15, and get fully vaccinated by Dec. 31 (except for those who obtained medical or religious exemptions.) Any city employee who fails to meet the deadlines will be put on a no-pay status.

With only 64 percent (pdf) responding, the police department has the lowest vaccination-mandate response rate among 35 city departments. Its employees, numbering around 12,600, account for more than a third of the city’s workforce. The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 (FOP) represents around 11,000 rank-and-file officers.

Mette said that as part of the procedure, ordered Oct. 18, police officers were first brought to a room at headquarters, where two supervisors talked about the importance of complying with the vaccine mandate and asked if the officers would fill out the portal.

For officers who refused to comply, they were sent to the Human Resources division, where they were asked again if they would comply, he said. Some said “no” and were immediately asked to turn in their badges and ID. They were told that they were now stripped of police powers and put on a no-pay status.

The process didn’t end there for noncompliant officers, Mette said. They were then asked to see high-ranking department members in another room, who stressed that the cost of noncompliance could be termination, and asked once again if they would comply.

Those who complied were put back on a paid status and given back police powers. Those who refused were sent home.

On Oct. 18, at least 40 police officers went through the procedure, and 18 refused to comply at the third step, according to Mette. The Epoch Times cannot independently verify the accuracy of the information.

CPD Superintendent David Brown said on Oct. 19 that 21 police officers had been placed on no-pay status for not complying with the vaccine mandate.

For those going through the procedure who finally entered their information into the portal, they were asked by the union to sign a letter declaring they were being forced to act under duress and threats of termination.

More police officers were asked to go through the same procedure on Oct. 19, and others in coming days, according to Mette.

The union says it thinks the vaccine mandate wasn’t fairly negotiated between itself and the city and is thus invalid. It intends to file a class-action grievance to recover officers’ wages, time, and benefits, according to its website.

A Chicago police officer told The Epoch Times that he refuses to comply because he wants to protect officers’ collective-bargaining rights under the contract with the city. He has worked with the CPD for more than 20 years. He refused to disclose his name for fear of repercussions.

The vaccine mandate has greatly affected police morale, which is the lowest he has ever seen, he said.

“[Officers] have mortgages, they have car payments, they have tuition bills, which are just going to be wiped clean because of a wave of a hand, because the mayor [Mayor Lori Lightfoot] said so.

“All we are asking is the mayor negotiate in good faith. Just go to the union president and say let’s figure this out as rational adults. You are both smart, and you both have the backing of the people who work for you.”

Another officer said that some veteran officers have decided to not work voluntary overtime this week as a silent protest against the mandate. He also declined to disclose his name for fear of retaliation.

The police department has about 1,000 vacancies to fill, Brown said at the October city council budget hearing. The manpower shortage is caused by waves of retirements and fewer new applicants, according to previous reports by The Epoch Times.

On Aug. 25, Lightfoot announced her vaccine mandate for city workers. It was clear: All employees had to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 15.

Since then, FOP has led the vaccine negotiations with the city, joined by three other Chicago law-enforcement unions: those of Chicago police sergeants, lieutenants, and captains.

FOP put a number of options on the table: consideration of natural immunity, incentives for voluntary vaccination, honoring exemption requests based on conscience, and weekly testing options for those who refuse vaccination.

According to union President John Catanzara, the city only accepted the last one, changed it to twice-weekly testing, and attached a sunset clause to it. Then the mayor closed the door for negotiation, he said.

On Oct. 14, FOP and three other law-enforcement unions sued Lightfoot to assert their collective-bargaining rights. This came hours after the city sued FOP, alleging an illegal strike over the vaccine mandate.

Cara Ding
Cara is a Chicago-based Epoch Times reporter. She can be reached at cara.ding@epochtimes.com.