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COVID kills far more police officers than bullets do. Yet Chicago police are making a big stink about getting the vaccines that would protect them, and the people they supposedly serve.
COVID kills far more police officers than bullets do. Yet Chicago police are making a big stink about getting the vaccines that would protect them, and the people they supposedly serve.
KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI, Getty

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Why are cops afraid of vaccines?

COVID is a far greater risk to police safety than bullets. Yet the Chicago Police Department personnel wear vests but shun vaccines.

Boy, is it beautiful up in Door County. The wife and I had a great time there last week, hiking the parks, going to fish boils. I tried not to think about being right back here Monday morning, poking Chicago’s ball-of-snakes politics with a stick.

Oh look. The city and the police department are suing each other. That’s normal.

So let’s talk about the police. Puff aside the fog of BS swirling around them and get down to basics. What is the most important activity performed by the police? The reason for the roll calls and the paperwork. What does everyone, including the police themselves, agree that police are supposed to do?

Fight crime, right? Any objections? Is the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 7 on board with the whole police-are-supposed-to-arrest-criminals idea? Assuming so — a leap of trust nowadays with anything requiring an ounce of sense — let’s continue.

This crime-fighting business involves danger, does it not? Puts police in perilous situations. Running into a dark alley where there might be a bad guy with a gun. Charging up the dark stairs of a six-flat. Going into the foul, overheated apartment of some crazy person who might come at you with a razor.

A dangerous job. If I say, “Chicago cops put their lives on the line every day,” I don’t expect John Catanzara to jump onto YouTube to insist, “No we don’t!”

So what’s with the vaccine hesitancy? You’ll run into a burning building but won’t get the shots that soon every 5-year-old will need in order to go to school? You let the city tell you what kind of hat to wear, but helping fight the plague that has killed 700,000 Americans is a bridge too far. Why?

OK, I know the answer: Chicago cops don’t want to be told to take the vaccine because they’re Red State white bread Trumpies huddled in their walled enclaves in Blue State multicultural Chicago. Not taking the vaccine is the middle finger to science and authority that, being cops, they just can’t deny themselves.

It’s their William Wallace cry of freedom. COVID denialism is holy writ liturgy established by their fearful leader in early 2020, and it now has become a cargo cult show of loyalty and faith until his triumphant return.

But shouldn’t professionalism at some point kick in? Shouldn’t the serve-and-protect thing take over? I just read the Chicago Police Code of Conduct — somebody should — and refusing the vaccine violates about six different bullet points. It doesn’t directly say, “Take the damn vaccine.” But close.

Is this issue really that complicated? “Serve and protect,” right? It’s on the cars. And if you are puffing your hot COVID breath in the face of the senior citizen you’re helping to the ambulance, well, you’re kinda falling down on the protecting part, yes?

Here’s the kicker. Not only does taking the vaccine serve and protect the public, but it is a lifesaver for the police themselves. Consider two risks affecting cops: bullets and COVID. Five times as many officers, nationwide, have died of COVID since the pandemic began than have been shot to death. Were the choice getting the vaccine or wearing a bulletproof vest, if only one could be chosen, the rational cop would go for the vaccine every time.

“The rational cop.” Ah, ahahahahaha. I crack myself up sometimes.

Speaking of vests. Cops didn’t want to wear those either, at first. Uncomfortable. Expensive. Thank God the department wouldn’t pay. So groups of loved ones raised money, and the vests began to seem a goodie being denied them.

Were the mayor crafty (“The crafty mayor.” Ah, hahahaha) rather than require the police to get vaccinated, Lori Lightfoot would have forbidden police from getting vaccines, citing sick time to recover or whatever. Then Catanzara wouldn’t be opposing the shots but demanding them.

Picture that, for a moment, the Fraternal Order of Police said, “Yeah, it’s important we all get vaccinated, to benefit the Chicagoans we serve and protect?” It’s unimaginable, right? That’s because they’ve become this insular knot of self-serving bullies who are their own worst enemies. Literally more of a danger to themselves than gang-bangers are to them. Who only care about public opinion as fresh fuel for their eternal outrage.

Twenty percent raises. New police officers get $80,000 a year after 18 months. That’s an awfully pricey middle finger.

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