Chicago police union faces legal setback to COVID vaccine mandate challenge; TRO hearing delayed

David Brown, Chicago police superintendent, said he doesn't just want CPD officers to comply, he wants them to get vaccinated

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Thursday, October 21, 2021
FOP suffers legal setback in fight against vaccine mandate
The Fraternal Order of Police suffered a legal setback in their fight against the city' vaccine madnate as CPD swore in a new class of probationary police officers.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Fraternal Order of Police had a bit of a setback Wednesday in its effort to get a temporary restraining order on the city's COVID vaccine mandate.

A hearing for the temporary restraining order was delayed Wednesday morning, and there was a motion to transfer the case, citing legal procedure.

The FOP did appear in court Wednesday afternoon to request that the judge who barred the police union head from talking about the city's vaccine mandate on social media be removed, but their request was denied.

FOP boss John Catanzara was ordered by that judge to stop talking about the mandate on social media last week.

City officials accused Catanzara of trying to encourage and illegal work stoppage, or strike, by telling members to defy the mandate. He said the city's requirement is a violation of their collective bargaining agreement.

The FOP's First Vice President Michael Mette compared the mandate's requirement that officers report their vaccination status to the city to the dystopian death march of "The Hunger Games."

"Welcome to day three of the hunger games, where we find out who the city will offer up as tribute," he said in a video posted to Facebook. "If we fail to make them bargain with us on this issue, what issue is next?"

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That latest salvo came as the department swore in 99 new probationary police officers. One of them, Krystal Rivera, said it was a "privilege" to help people. And while she said she is fully vaccinated, she briefly hesitated to report her status.

"I held off a little bit. But because we are on probationary status, it's a lot more strict for us," she said.

She supports fellow officers who refuse.

"We all have our own perception of it and that's fine, no judgements," Rivera said. "So I think we all stand together and really just hold the line for each other."

Neither the mayor nor the superintendent spoke of the mandate in their speeches to the graduating class. Taking questions later, CPD Superintendent David Brown wouldn't respond to the "Hunger Games" remark either.

"I have this saying, don't comment on comments," he said.

But Chicago police officials are ramping up their efforts to get CPD officers to obey the city mandate, saying safety is their top priority.

RELATED: Latest CPD memo says cops who don't follow city COVID vaccine mandate not eligible for promotions

CPD Superintendent David Brown said less than two dozen officers have been sent home without pay for refusing. He also said the number of officers in compliance has gone up a percentage point again to more than 68% Wednesday.

Officers who have not complied with the mandate by either refusing to upload vaccine status to the city's online portal or who have not gotten vaccinated and won't submit to testing are being taken off the streets and put on no-pay status, as the mandate requires.

For the second day in a row, CPD officers who have defied the reporting mandate were told to report to police headquarters, where they were given orders to comply and then given a chance to change their minds.

Monday the city released data showing compliance levels across all city departments.

The city said that as of Monday, 79% of employees have confirmed vaccination status, and of those 84% are fully vaccinated.

The mandate gave all city employees until last Friday to get vaccinated. The department with the lowest level of compliance was the police department.

The city said there haven't been any staffing shortages so far, and none are anticipated.

Brown said the officers are being misinformed by the union.

Wednesday afternoon's hearing is at 1 p.m., but it's unclear when a hearing on the actual restraining order will be scheduled.