• Tracking the variant

Live updates: Omicron Variant in Chicago

Alderman says COVID-19 is impacting an already depleted CPD

Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

The Chicago Police Department is refusing to say how many of its officers are out sick with COVID-19, even as it cancels days off for officers this upcoming weekend.

The lack of transparency comes amid ongoing concerns over officer staffing throughout the city.

According to the city’s inspector general, there were 11,913 sworn officers in CPD as of last month. That’s down almost 1,300 from where staffing levels were two years ago.

Ald. Anthony Napolitano, 41st Ward, told the Chicago Sun-Times that coronavirus cases were hurting staffing levels even more — with 72 officers out sick in just one Northwest Side police district at one point.

WBEZ repeatedly asked the department for a count of all officers currently out with COVID-19, but the department declined to answer the question. Instead a spokesperson said 5,888 CPD members have tested positive for the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic, and the vast majority have returned to duty.

Meanwhile, the city is nearing the end of arbitration with police unions over a mandate that all city employees be vaccinated against COVID-19. Currently police officers are exempted from the requirement until the arbitration process is completed. Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara said an arbitration decision won’t come for three weeks or more.

According to information from the mayor’s office, almost all police officers have submitted their vaccination status to the city, and about 71% of police employees have reported that they are vaccinated against COVID-19.