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Dozens Of Officers Rally Outside CPD Headquarters, Protesting City's Vaccine Mandate

CHICAGO (CBS)-- Dozens of officers rallied outside Chicago Police Headquarters on Tuesday, saying they are ready to go on no-pay status after refusing to report their vaccination status as part of the vaccine mandate for all city workers.

CBS 2's Mugo Odigwe reports it's the latest salvo in the battle between the city's police unions and Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

About 100 people joined the rally Tuesday morning outside Chicago Police Headquarters, not all of them officers; some were supporters and family members.

Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara has said hundreds of rank-and-file officers are willing to go on no-pay status, but they aren't being allowed inside Police Headquarters to talk to top brass.

"Let's treat everybody the same. Every officer that was not in compliance and is still not in compliance, put them on a no-pay status," he said.

All city employees were required to report their vaccination status through an online portal by Oct. 15, and on Oct. 18 city officials began the process of notifying workers who had yet to comply that they would get one last chance to do so, or face being placed on no-pay status.

As of Monday, 3,735 officers and civilian employees at the Chicago Police Department – 29% of CPD staff – have yet to report their vaccination status, but only 23 police officers have been placed on no-pay status.

Catanzara said officers are being called in here and there, one by one, as opposed to telling everyone who has yet to report their vaccination status to go home.

He claimed doing it in small numbers helps the city keep more officers on the job, while the 23 officers on no-pay status are left without pay.

That's why he organized Tuesday's rally, and on Monday he predicted hundreds of officers would show up, but so far that hasn't been the case.

Catazara said the department put out a message on Monday that those who show up would face some type of discipline.

He also offered a possible resolution to the back-and-forth between the city and the union.

"We are willing to subject our members to daily testing before they go into roll call. Get a rapid test. If you're positive, go home. If you're not, go to roll call. How is that not a simple concept to understand, and then the vaccine status doesn't even matter? It's are you contagious or not?" he said.

However, false negative results are more common when using rapid testing than lab testing, especially if someone who has COVID is asymptomatic, or only recently contracted the virus.

A Cook County judge on Monday denied a request by the City of Chicago to extend a restraining order forbidding Catanzara from publicly urging officers to defy the city's vaccine mandate.

Meantime, a hearing is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon on a federal lawsuit a group of dozens of Chicago firefighters and Water Department workers has filed against the city, seeking to block the vaccine mandate for city workers.

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