The federal vaccine mandate is sparking legal action by police in cities across the country. But why are the police choosing not to get vaccinated -- and why are their unions protecting that choice?
Chicago is the perfect place to examine this issue.
Under a directive by Chicago’s mayor, every city employee had until Oct. 15 to report their vaccination status or choose to undergo regular COVID-19 testing instead. Then police unions legally challenged the mandate and a judge suspended the date for members of the force to be fully vaccinated, offering that the case needed to go through arbitration. Other unions representing city workers are also now seeking the same type of ruling.
So far, more than 73 Chicago police employees and 67 Chicago Fire Department staffers have been placed on no-pay status since the Oct. 15 deadline has passed. They were also sent home for refusing to report their vaccination status. However, many later complied, and now only 35 police and 26 Fire Department workers were on no-pay status.
So what is the reason that cops are saying no to the jab in Chicago and other cities?
The same reason everyone else is: they question the efficacy of the jab and believe that public health officials and other government officials have simply gone too far. “My body; my choice” has become a semi-ironic rallying cry among those who want to retain their medical freedom -- whether its police officers or employees of small and large businesses facing mandates.
One Chicago police lieutenant who spoke to the Chicago Tribune under the condition of anonymity said: “I would sooner resign than be forced to get the vaccine.”
“Last year, when the riots were going on and the city’s burning, they were putting us 50 people deep on a CTA bus and driving us around,” he continued. “They made us work 12-hour days for 40 days straight, with no days off. That’s our job. That’s what we did. And people are now forgetting about that.”
What’s happening in Chicago is happening everywhere. It's unclear how many police unions across the nation are fighting vaccine mandates. But unions from Seattle to New York have all pushed back against mandatory vaccines. Some of the unionized firefighters nationwide have also resisted vaccines or the reporting of vaccine status per the federal mandate.
And why do these officers have the support of their labor organizations?
Police union leaders say it’s their job to protect its members -- whether it’s one or several hundred. Mike Solan, president of the officers' union in Seattle, told CNN: "It's about the mandate in and of itself is a problem and they need to bargain this. Jobs are on the line. That's our purpose as a union."
Since Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s directive went into effect, 84% of Chicago police have reported their vaccination status on the city’s official portal. The anonymous lieutenant is among the 23% of who reported they are not fully vaccinated.
Officers who have already had COVID say they want to rely on their natural immunity against the infection. But relying on natural immunity has been condemned by local and national officials even though there’s good reason to believe it’s an effective protection against reinfection. Studies out of Israel show that natural immunity in unvaccinated people who contract COVID-19 is up to 13 times stronger than what is produced by the so-called vaccine. Other research shows similar findings.
We entrust police with our lives and safety. Doesn’t it then follow that they will be just as careful with their own lives? Shouldn’t they, like everyone else, have a chance to review the medical data and make decisions about their own health in private without outside interference?
If a police officer or anyone else chooses to be vaccinated against COVID-19, that is his prerogative. It is a choice that needs to be made between him and his doctor. It is not a decision the government should decide for them.
Between the Defund the Police movements, vaccine mandates, and liberal laws restricting them, it almost seems like an intentional effort to paint bullseyes on the backs of police officers, daring anyone to take a shot at them. With fewer police officers on the job, when those left are called into high crime areas, are they at least issued bulletproof vests?
Moreover, people’s livelihoods are being stripped away from them, further adding to America’s worker shortage while endangering the lives of the citizens by taking police off the streets. Our elected leaders took an oath to serve and protect the people who entrusted them to hold office. Instead of firing our defenders, it’s high time we protect those who protect us.
This will go down in history as one of the greatest impositions ever perpetrated on American citizens. It is inept and morally wrong to inflict harm to your citizens to feed your ego, seeing how many people you can control by imposing a mandatory vaccine. What’s more, it has had adverse effects, sometimes deadly, for a large number of those taking it.
As a police chaplain/officer/certified firefighter, I created Invest USA, a charity to protect those who protect us. We donate bulletproof active shooter vests and nationally advocate for America’s Hero’s. I feel the anguish and pain of families who lost their hero spouses and dads who were not issued lifesaving vests. However, I have joy knowing that our vests saved the lives of 3500 police officers.
I find it ironic how I was considered a hero just twenty years ago for being a First Responder to the 9/11 attacks in New York City as part of the search and rescue team effort. Yet, today first responders are often derided simply for being police officers. In my case, I am doubly-demonized for being “one of those people” who chose not to take the vaccine.
Can’t we do better than this?
Michael A Letts is the CEO and Founder of In-VestUSA, a national grassroots non-profit organization helping hundreds of communities provide thousands of bulletproof vests for their police forces through educational, public relations, sponsorship, and fundraising programs.