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More Chicago police officers comply with vaccination status reporting
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More Chicago police officers comply with vaccination status reporting

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As vaccine mandates hit their deadlines, the consequences are coming down on the country's police forces."We're still going to give them one last opportunity to do the right thing," said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.Chicago's mayor stripping 19 officers of their police powers for refusing to report their vaccine status. The fight going to court, where a judge ordered the officer's union boss to stop making public statements, like this one:"You are under no obligation to respond or comply," said John Catanzara, president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police. He had argued  vaccinations were a matter of collective bargaining. But pulling more than a dozen officers is a sore spot in a city already dealing with spiking crime. There's also resistance in Seattle and Los Angeles County.In San Diego, a similar story. Around 90% of San Diego's officers said they think vaccines should be an individual choice. Almost half said they'd rather be fired than comply with a mandate."That's concerning, I mean, the possible impacts if we were to lose officers," said San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit.The union is arguing officers could easily get hired elsewhere and is urging the city to provide alternatives, like regular testing. It's trying to prevent cuts to an already strained force."You look at this police department, our ratio of officers to citizens is the second-lowest in this nation, and so obviously that impacts our ability to respond to crime," said Nisleit.In Florida, Karen Weiskopf is pleading with police officers and anyone who will listen to get their shot. Her husband, officer Michael Weiskopf, died in August after battling COVID-19 for close to a month. He was not vaccinated when he got infected. "The pain. There wasn't one day, one hour, one moment that he didn't suffer," Karen Weiskopf said."I said, is there any way I can go to sleep and just die of a broken heart because it'd be a lot easier," she said."Quit paying attention to the politicians that think they know what they're talking about, but they don't," said Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County, Florida.Police leaders are encouraging their officers to get the shot. But many union heads are standing their ground on this argument."We don't like being mandated and pushed into anything like that," said John Kazanjian, president of the Florida Police Benevolent Association.Kazanjian, the head of Florida's largest police union, is vaccinated and encouraging others to do the same, but:  "It's a freedom of choice, absolutely, that's why we live in this great country, the United States," said Kazanjian.Florida has one of the highest counts in the country of officers who have died from COVID-19: 57 and counting.Each one leaving behind a family member to wish things could be different. "It's still surreal," said Weiskopf. "I'm taking it, um, I think hour by hour and day by day. 

The Chicago Police Department has 35 officers on no-pay status for refusing to enter their vaccination status into the city’s portal, police Superintendent David Brown said Monday.

In a news conference Monday morning, Brown said the number of officers on no-pay status has fluctuated and is down from about 50 officers at one point The increase means almost 78% of the more than 12,000 department employees, a number that includes sworn officers and civilian employees, has disclosed their vaccination status, Brown said.

David Brown

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown speaks at a news conference on Monday, July 27, 2020 in Chicago. 

Of those in the portal, 77.6% are vaccinated, down from about 80% at one point, Brown said, meaning as more people enter the portal, the percentage of those who have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine has decreased.

Brown said the department’s’ main priority is to get full compliance with the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate that requires everyone employed by the city to report whether they’ve gotten the vaccine and, if they haven’t, to get a coronavirus test twice a week.

He said his leadership will also continue to encourage officers to get the vaccine if they haven’t already, telling them it can save their lives, their co-workers’ lives and the lives of people in the community they interact with.

Michael Warner, an attorney for the city, said officer compliance with the vaccine mandate “continues to tick up” even though Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara posted videos last week that advised officers to not update their vaccine status in the city’s portal.

Last month, a judge issued a temporary restraining order against Catanzara, prohibiting him from making public statements that encourage members not to report their COVID-19 vaccine status to the city.

“Currently we don’t see the need for immediate injunctive relief, but the situation is fluid,” Warner said.

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