Chicago Judge Blocks Vaccine Mandate for Cops

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Judge Raymond W. Mitchell of the Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago has blocked the city from enforcing a Dec. 31, 2021 vaccine mandate for police officers until the issue can be addressed in arbitration, reports the New York Times. Mitchell said that as unionized employees, police officers had a right to have their objections to the mandate heard by an arbitrator before the requirement takes effect.  So far, about 71 percent of Chicago Police Department employees had reported their vaccination status to the city, the lowest rate of any city department. Around 7,300 police employees said they were vaccinated, while about 1,700 said they were not. More than 3,000 others had not provided their status.

Across the country, police unions have fought requirements that their members get vaccinated, sometimes leading to fears of mass resignations. However, The Guardian reports that, according to policing and public health experts, warnings that the mandates would deplete police departments and make cities more dangerous have not yet proven true and that the mandates themselves are effective. Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, which advises police departments across the country, described the warnings from police unions as “bravado.” The New York Police Department reports 85 percent of officers have been vaccinated, up from 70 percent just a couple of weeks ago. Other cities, including Seattle and Los Angeles, have seen the same increase in vaccinations before mandate deadlines, as workers decide they would rather get the shot than lose their jobs or be placed on unpaid leave.

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