21 Chicago cops put on 'no pay status' in vaccine standoff

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FILE - In this Sunday, Aug. 8, 2021, file photo, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown speaks during a news conference at police headquarters. On Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, Brown said that 21 officers have been placed on “no pay status” for refusing to comply with the city's order to disclose their COVID-19 vaccination status. Brown added that the refusals have not affected staffing. (Vashon Jordan Jr./Chicago Tribune via AP, File)

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said Tuesday that 21 officers have been placed on “no pay status” for refusing to comply with the city's order to disclose their COVID-19 vaccination status.

Brown said that the refusals have not affected staffing.

Brown, who disclosed that three members of his own family who he described as “anti-vaxxers” have died of complications from the virus in recent weeks, said he is simply trying to protect officers and the public from harm.

“This virus is no different than the gunfire we take as cops..." he said. "It would go against our oath to take this virus into (residents') homes."

Though the police department lags behind all other city departments in complying with the city’s requirement to report vaccination status, Brown said that more police department employees had entered their status in recent days. Currently, 67% of the police department’s employees have entered their vaccination status of which 82% are fully vaccinated, Brown said.

The dispute between the union and city has been escalating with both sides taking the matter to court.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has accused the police officers' union and its president of spreading misinformation about the reporting process, which asks for vaccination status and allows for a temporary window of regular COVID-19 testing at the employee’s own expense until vaccines can be administered.

The union's president, John Catanzara, maintains that the order to provide information to the portal is both a violation of the officers' constitutional rights and their rights under the union’s contract with the city.

The police union's website again on Tuesday directed members to not comply, but also has offered an option to comply while providing a form to show they are doing so "under complete duress and threats of termination.”