Judge Pauses Chicago Vaccine Mandate Deadline for Police

November 2, 2021 Updated: November 4, 2021

A judge on Monday paused a vaccination mandate for the Chicago Police Department (CPD) pending the settlement of a lawsuit between the department and the Chicago police officers union.

Cook County Judge Raymond Mitchell granted a partial temporary restraining order, requiring that the city cannot enforce the Dec. 31 deadline for CPD officers to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but said that “the reporting and testing obligations”—or testing twice a week under city policy—still remain in effect

Disputes over vaccinations should be handled as a labor grievance with an arbitrator, Mitchell said.

“The reporting obligation itself is a minimal intrusion, particularly considering that police officers already are obligated to provide medical information to their employer,” Mitchell wrote.

“The effect of this order is to send these parties back to the bargaining table and to promote labor peace by allowing them to pursue” remedies under Illinois law, the judge added.

Mitchell’s decision centers on a lawsuit filed by the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) against the city last month in response to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s vaccine mandate, under which all city employees had to report their vaccination status through an online portal by Oct. 15, and get fully vaccinated by Dec. 31, barring those who obtained exemptions for medical or religious reasons.

City workers who fail to meet the deadlines will be put on a no-pay status, Lightfoot’s administration said in announcing the mandate weeks ago.

“The principal risk to those who are unvaccinated is to themselves and to others who choose to be unvaccinated,” the judge said.

Police have lagged behind other city departments in meeting the vaccine requirements, but the numbers have been slowly increasing. City data released Monday showed about 73 percent of CPD employees had reported their COVID-19 vaccination status, and about 80 percent of those employees reported being fully vaccinated.

The judge noted that COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus has killed many officers nationwide.

“In light of that terrible sacrifice, the police union’s request just to have their grievances heard seems a pretty modest task,” Mitchell said.

CPD Superintendent David Brown said that before the judge’s ruling, 35 officers had been placed on unpaid leave, CNN reported.

“We continue to encourage our department members to get the COVID-19 vaccine. This is about officer safety, as we’ve said repeatedly, and it’s about protecting our families and the people we serve,” Brown said.

According to the news outlet, a status hearing in the case has been set for Nov. 10 at 1 p.m. local time.

The Epoch Times has contacted FOP President John Catanzara and Lightfoot’s office for comment.

Catanzara in a video published on Oct. 12 called on union members to refuse to comply with the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, instructing members to file for exemptions to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine but to not enter that information into the city’s vaccine portal.

“I’ve made my status very clear as far as the vaccine, but I do not believe the city has the authority to mandate that to anybody—let alone that information about your medical history,” he said at the time.

President Joe Biden meanwhile suggested during a CNN presidential town hall on Oct. 21, that police officers who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19 should be fired.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.