covid vaccine mandate

CPD Officers Speak Out After Being Placed on Unpaid Status Due to COVID Vaccine Mandate

Nearly 50 officers were disciplined Monday, according to FOP President John Catanzara

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Chicago police officers who have been put on unpaid status amid the start of the city’s COVID vaccine mandate are speaking out and sharing their stories with NBC 5’s Regina Waldroup.

After a weekend full of uncertainty over the implementation of Chicago’s coronavirus vaccine mandate for city employees, police officers have begun to face disciplinary action for not reporting their vaccination status.

According to Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara, close to 50 officers were placed on unpaid status as part of the enforcement of that mandate, which requires city workers to confirm whether or not they’ve gotten the COVID vaccine.

Those workers who have not are required to submit to twice-weekly testing through the end of the year.

NBC 5 spoke to two officers who were placed on unpaid status Monday, and both say that the city’s reporting requirement for COVID vaccination goes against their union rights, and that they’re ready to lose pay over their decision not to comply with the mandate.

“It was emotional for everyone, especially for me,” Officer Elizabeth Alaniz said.

Alaniz has been on the Chicago police force for more than 20 years, but Monday she turned in her badge after refusing to report her vaccination status.

“I was given a direct order to do so, and I said I would not comply with that direct order,” she said.

She says that she works in the department’s extradition unit.

In all, 79% of Chicago city employees have confirmed their vaccination status, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday, as she announced the city will begin enforcing its vaccine mandate. NBC 5's Mary Ann Ahern reports.

“We have a process that needs to go through our union, and this is not being met,” she said.

Just under 66% of officers have responded to the city’s request for information through the vaccination portal. Most of those officers are vaccinated for COVID, and while a second officer NBC 5 spoke to said that they are in that vaccinated group, they still did not comply with the mandate because of the usage of that portal, which they say goes against their union contract.

“These are rights that our union is fighting for, and if we let them take this from us, what else will they take away?” the officer said.

Catanzara, who has encouraged members of the police union not to use the portal to provide their vaccination status, echoed those sentiments.

“The collective bargaining agreement has always been at the heart of this,” he said. “The demand for arbitration was given to the city 10 days ago, and they chose to ignore it.”

Most of the officers disciplined Monday were assigned to the department’s headquarters and to fugitive apprehension. Disciplinary action has not yet been taken against patrol officers.

The police union says it will continue to discuss the situation with members, and legal action is still possible to push back against the mandate.