Officers who haven’t been vaccinated still must be tested twice a week under city policy. Officers also can lose work and pay if they don’t disclose their vaccine status.
“The principal risk to those who are unvaccinated is to themselves and to others who choose to be unvaccinated,” the judge said.
Police have lagged behind other city departments in meeting the vaccine requirements, but the numbers have been slowly increasing. City data released Monday showed about 73% of Chicago Police Department employees had reported their vaccination status, and about 80% of those employees reported being fully vaccinated.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration announced the vaccine policy weeks ago, drawing sharp objections from police union leaders.
The judge noted that COVID-19 has killed many officers nationwide.
“In light of that terrible sacrifice, the police unions’ request just to have their grievances heard seems a pretty modest task,” Mitchell said.
Council member Alderman Anthony Napolitano, a union ally, said taking the dispute to arbitration is “a lot more American.”
“Instead of forcing people to do something, you bring it to a conversation and arbitration. … This has become too much of a control situation,” Napolitano said of City Hall.