Chicago police may deny benefits to officers who choose retirement over vaccine mandate
CHICAGO - The Chicago Police Department’s top cop has threatened to deny retirement benefits to those who choose to retire from the job rather than comply with the city's COVID-19 vaccination policy, according to local reports.
Chicago Police Superintendent David O. Brown said that those officers who do choose to retire rather than follow City Hall’s orders "may be denied retirement credentials," the Chicago Tribune reported, citing Brown’s Sunday memo.
A spokesperson for the police department would not comment or confirm the report to Fox News and referred further questions to the office of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
The Lightfoot administration required that city workers report their COVID-19 vaccination status or be placed on unpaid leave, setting a deadline for this past Friday. Those who did not submit their vaccination status were told they would be placed on unpaid leave. Lightfoot said the no-pay status would not take effect until after the weekend because confirming compliance would take time.
"My expectation is that people who swore an oath to serve and protect the city are going to honor that oath and they’re going to show up, they’re going to report for duty, and they’re going to comply with a legal directive from the city and an order from the police department," Lightfoot told reporters Thursday. "Anything less would be insubordination."
A spokesperson for Lightfoot’s office did not respond to Fox News’ request seeking comment. The Democratic mayor is expected to hold a press conference later Monday.
Chicago police officials made it clear on Thursday that officers who refused to comply with the city’s mandate risk being disciplined or fired.
First Deputy Police Superintendent Eric Carter said officers will be expected to meet Friday’s deadline unless they have an approved medical or religious exemption. Under the city’s rules, those who weren’t vaccinated by Friday would have to get tested twice a week on their own time and expense until the end of the year, when they will be required to be vaccinated.
But the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) has been staunchly opposed to the mandate.
Last week, FOP President John Catanzara said that if officers were turned away, the city would have a police force "at 50% or less for this weekend coming up."
He also instructed officers to file for exemptions to receiving vaccines but to not enter that information into the city’s portal, telling the rank-and-file, "I do not believe the city has the authority to mandate that to anybody, let alone that information about your medical history."
The FOP posted instructions on its website for what officers should do if given a direct order to report on the city portal their vaccination status. This time, it posted a letter that officers could sign and present to their superiors.
The document states: "Complying with this INVALID order and the violation of MY Bargaining, Constitutional and Civil Rights has furthermore caused me severe anxiety while challenging both my religious and moral beliefs. I am in fact complying with this because I am being forced to do so under complete duress and threats of termination."
Both sides have since taken legal action against each other.
Late Friday, a judge granted the city’s request for a temporary injunction barring Catanzara from making any public comments that encourage FOP members to disobey the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate until the next hearing on the city’s lawsuit on Oct. 25.