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21 Chicago cops in no-pay status after refusing to tell city if they are vaccinated

Of the 67.7% of police officers and civilians entered into the city’s online health portal, 82% are vaccinated, Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said Tuesday.

Chicago police Supt. David Brown.
Chicago Police Supt. David Brown
Anthony Vazquez / Sun-Times

Twenty-one sworn Chicago police officers are in a no-pay status for refusing to report their vaccination status on the city’s online portal, Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said at a news conference Tuesday.

Of the 12,770 employees in the Chicago Police Department, 67.7% have filled out the portal verifying they have either been vaccinated or submitting to twice-weekly testing, up from 64.4% Monday. Of those reporting, 82% have been vaccinated, Brown said. The police department has the lowest compliance rate with the vaccine mandate of any city department.

Over the past several days, police leadership has met individually with each employee not entered into the portal, Brown said, first counseling them on what the city’s vaccine mandate requires, then sending them to human resources to enter no-pay status and finally facing a direct order to report to the portal from the bureau of internal affairs. Of the “several hundred” workers the police department has met with, only 21 refused to put their vaccine information into the portal, even after all three steps of the process, Brown said. Leadership has yet to speak with several hundred or even a thousand more employees not entered into the portal, he said.

“This process has been obviously very emotional,” Brown said. “We have given them the time and given them the explanation as best we can on the serious nature of violating the vaccine mandate.”

But at any point, even those 21 officers in no-pay status can choose to comply and return to work, Brown said.

“We want them to come back,” Brown said.

The issue strikes personally for Brown, who said he lost his first cousin, her husband and her daughter last month from COVID-19. All three were unvaccinated, he said.

Brown blamed “misinformation” for why many employees, both civilians and sworn officers, did not initially enter their status into the portal and said officers “should be able to rely on some of their union leadership for accurate information.”

John Catanzara — president of Lodge 7 of the Fraternal Order of Police — has posted multiple videos online urging union members not to report their vaccination status. Catanzara has ardently opposed Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s vaccine mandate, though the mayor has stood her ground and refused to push back the Oct. 15 deadline for city employees to report their status.

Getting all police department employees into compliance, either by being vaccinated or being tested twice a week, is a matter of saving lives of officers, their families and the “people who we are sworn to protect in this community,” Brown said.

“This virus is no different than the gunfire we take as cops,” Brown said. “I will do everything I can, and I will say anything I need to, to convince officers to” comply.

Four CPD officers died in the line of duty in 2020 — all from COVID-19.