Final Count: Over 1,750 Chicago Police Officers Won’t Have to Get Vaccinated | Chicago News
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration has exempted more than 1,750 members of the Chicago Police Department from the city’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate and has not moved to fire a single police officer for failing to comply with the city’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate. order within more than two months that have elapsed since the last deadline. , officials told WTTW News.
That’s about 14 percent of the Chicago Police Department’s 12,537 members, twice the number of exemptions given to any other department in the city. By comparison, 6.9% of the Chicago Fire Department’s 4,801 members were granted exemptions from the vaccination mandate, according to a WTTW News analysis of data provided by the mayor’s office.
According to city data, about 5.9% of the Chicago Department of Transportation’s workforce and 5.1% of Streets and Sanitation Department employees were granted exemptions.
Of the city’s total workforce of 31,101 employees, 8.3% do not need to be vaccinated against COVID-19, with 67 exemption requests still pending, according to city data. Exemptions can only be granted for religious or medical reasons under state law.
Members of the Chicago Police Department make up about 40% of the city’s workforce, but make up more than 69% of all employees who have been exempted from the vaccine, according to city data.
Six members of the Chicago Police Department have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
The debate over whether Chicago Police Department officers should be vaccinated against COVID-19 troubled Chicago politics for months, but quietly ended after the final deadline for vaccinating officers passed on April 13 and that Lightfoot and Chicago Police Supt. David Brown did nothing to discipline the hundreds of officers who refused to be vaccinated against the virus that was the leading killer of police officers across the country.
Six members of the Chicago Police Department are not being paid because they were not vaccinated or received an exemption, department spokeswoman Maggie Huynh told WTTW News. Department heads have not initiated disciplinary proceedings against any member for violating the city’s immunization mandate, Huynh said.
At the height of the fury, Lightfoot refused to overturn the warrant, even as conservative members of the Chicago City Council increased the pressure on the mayor by warning that she would have blood on her hands if the demand took cops off the streets of Chicago as homicides. and carjackings have reached record levels.
City attorneys also pushed back against a concerted legal effort led by the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 7, which represents rank-and-file officers, to overturn the warrant. All of the city’s other unions — except the Chicago Teachers Union — sued the city separately to overturn the vaccine mandate, but also lost.
Even with a decisive victory in hand, Lightfoot avoided a direct confrontation over the warrant by quietly approving hundreds of exemption requests submitted by members of the Chicago Police Department as other issues captured the attention of the police. city Hall.
The last time Lightfoot faced questions from the media about the journalists’ vaccination mandate was on April 19, when she said it was “incorrect” to suggest that Chicago police officers had received disproportionate exemptions from its vaccination mandate.
Lightfoot did not directly respond to a question from WTTW News if the vaccine exemptions were granted to avoid having to fire thousands of officers as she runs for re-election and amid a crime spike. that polls have consistently shown to be the No. 1 concern of voters.
Lightfoot said all decisions on whether or not to grant an exemption from the vaccination mandate were made by the city’s human resources department.
“Our goal is to make sure we have a fully immunized workforce because that’s the best way we know, based on public health data, that we can maximize workforce protections. work,” Lightfoot said. “That’s how decisions are made. They call balls and strikes.
When Lightfoot announced the vaccine mandate in October, she said “the legitimacy of local policing” was at stake. Lightfoot campaigned for mayor in 2019 on a promise to restore public trust in the police department embattled, which has faced decades of scandal, misconduct and brutality.
The law requires the city to grant vaccine exemptions to those who are eligible, Lightfoot said, noting that the “vast majority” of Chicago police officers are vaccinated.
More than 98% of approved vaccine requests for members of the Chicago Police Department cited an “earliestly held” religious belief that prevented vaccination against COVID-19, according to city data.
Cardinal Blase Cupich has asked pastors in the Archdiocese of Chicago not to grant religious exemptions to the vaccine, saying it is not supported by Church teachings or the law.
Only 31 exemptions were granted to members of the Chicago Police Department who provided proof that a medical condition prevented them from being vaccinated safely, compared to 1,720 exemptions granted to members of the Chicago Police Department for reasons nuns, according to city data.
In order for an employee to be eligible for a medical exemption from the vaccine, they must provide documentation from an official physician showing that they may be suffering from a severe allergic reaction or other illness.
Since the April 13 deadline for vaccinating all city employees, city officials have granted exemptions to 312 additional members of the Chicago Police Department, according to a WTTW News analysis of data provided by the office of the mayor.
This would appear to leave 369 members at risk of disciplinary action or termination for failing to comply with the vaccination mandate, which represents approximately 3% of the department’s employees.
Requests submitted by 56 other members of the Chicago Police Department to be exempt from the vaccine due to medical issues are still pending, according to city data.
Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]