Police unions speak out against vaccine mandates amid shortages of recruits

Various companies and government entities throughout the United States are starting to mandate that their employees receive COVID-19 vaccine; however, police unions have started to speak out against such mandates.

The unions against vaccine mandates have cited reasons such as body autonomy, personal choice, and lack of medical necessity. On August 23, 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Pfizer/Bio-N-Tech COVID-19 vaccine, which has seemingly made it more difficult for some unions to make the case against a vaccine mandate. Dan Hils, president of the Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), has stated that city officials have approached him and other police unions in the area regarding a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Hils released the following statement: “the FOP recognizes the city wishes in this matter and the city appears to recognize the FOP’s desire to preserve the personal freedoms our officers are entitled to. I hope the city continues down the path of bargaining. A strictly vaccine only mandate would be a bad policy for a department that is struggling to retain and attract enough police officers.”

However, this issue is not exclusive to the city of Cincinnati but is also an issue in other cities across the country. On August 23, 2021, in a press briefing, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that the City of Chicago would be mandating COVID-19 vaccines for all city employees, including police officers. “City employees are absolutely going to be required to be vaccinated,” said Lightfoot. “We’re working through those discussions, which have been ongoing now for a couple weeks with our colleagues in organized labor that represent city employees.”

This prompted strong and intense backlash from the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police and other Chicago-area police unions. John Catanzara, the president of the Chicago FOP, stated that they are “100% against mandated vaccines for our members.” In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Catanzara stated that “this vaccine has no studies for long-term side effects or consequences. None. To mandate anybody to get that vaccine, without that data as a baseline, amongst other issues, is a ‘Hell, no’ for us.”

In the same interview, Catanzara mentioned other unions in the area and members of the Chicago Police Department’s command staff agreed with that position. “It ain’t just our guys. It’s the sergeants, lieutenants, and captains. This is a united front. All four of the unions. It’s no longer John Catanzara’s big mouth, like they like to spin it all the time.”

As the call for COVID-19 vaccine mandates continues, various police unions are considering lawsuits against their local municipalities if they cannot reach an agreement that does not result in mandatory vaccination for law enforcement officers [NBC News].



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