John Catanzara

As Court Challenge Looms, Chicago's Top Cop Defends COVID Vaccination Mandate

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As a series of court hearings looms Wednesday in the legal battle over Chicago’s coronavirus vaccine mandate, the city’s top cop is defending the measure. NBC 5’s Natalie Martinez has more.

As a series of court hearings looms Wednesday in the legal battle over Chicago’s coronavirus vaccine mandate, the city’s top cop says that the push to ensure that officers get the vaccine is a personal mission for him, in addition to a professional one.

Police Supt. David Brown spoke to media Tuesday about the mandate, with 21 officers having been placed on unpaid status as a result of refusing to submit their information to the city’s vaccination portal website.

Brown says that his first cousin’s immediately family, all of whom were against taking the vaccine, died as a result of contracting COVID.

“I lost my first cousin to COVID, and her husband, and her daughter, all in a two-week time span,” he said.

Brown says that the reality of what COVID has done to his family, as well as the fact that more police officers have died of COVID since the pandemic began than from any other cause, are leading him to push harder for officers to comply with the terms of the COVID vaccine mandate.

“I will say and do anything to save an officer’s life. I will,” he said.

The Fraternal Order of Police is continuing to encourage its members to not fill out their information in the vaccine portal, saying that they will fight in court for all members who are placed on unpaid status because of their refusal of a direct order.

“Don’t let them confuse you, or bully you, into going onto the portal,” union President John Catanzara said.

Brown pushed back against the union chief’s statements, saying that his members are being “misinformed” by union leadership.

“They should be able to rely on union leadership, but many have been misinformed,” Brown said.

According to Brown, just under 68% of police employees have submitted their information to the COVID vaccine portal. Of those employees, 82% are fully vaccinated against COVID.

There are a pair of court hearings set for Wednesday in connection with the mandate, including one hearing concerning a potential restraining order to prevent it from going into effect.