Mayor: Chicago Police Who Fail To Wear Masks Will Face Punishment

Police officer no mask
Chicago police officers without masks at a rally in Lincoln Park on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ
Police officer no mask
Chicago police officers without masks at a rally in Lincoln Park on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

Mayor: Chicago Police Who Fail To Wear Masks Will Face Punishment

The Chicago Police Department requires all on-duty officers to wear masks and gloves in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The rule went into effect on May 1, 2020.

But recent news footage of officers at protests has made it clear that scores of them do not follow the directive. Today, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said that she’s frustrated by these violations.

“If officers are not wearing the mask and protective gear that we provided, then they have to be disciplined,” Lightfoot said at a Friday press conference.

She said the refusal to wear masks by many police officers has been an ongoing problem and has caused Police Superintendent David Brown to issue several reminders to his staff about it.

A police spokesperson sent WBEZ a statement with the official language of the policy.

“Effective 12:00 a.m. on May 1, 2020, all on-duty personnel are required to wear Department issued surgical masks and gloves except for when members are inside of a police facility or department vehicle.”

Neither the mayor’s office nor the Chicago Police Department responded to questions asking why the officers don’t wear the gear or what, if any, disciplinary measures have been taken.

But the mayor did say that the city has “spent significant amounts of money and resources to make sure our officers are safe in discharging their duties every day, including PPE, masks, gloves and cleaning supplies.”

Chicago and northeastern Illinois remain at Phase 3 of Gov. JB Pritzker’s plan to reopen the state. Illinois guidelines for Phase 3 continue to require wearing face masks in public.

Most masks are designed to protect others from possible contamination, while more advanced respirator masks are designed to protect the wearer as well.

Lightfoot says the police masks serve both purposes.

“It’s for their protection as well as members of the public,” she said, “and we expect them to abide by the directives that have been issued.”

Monica Eng is a WBEZ reporter. You can contact her at meng@wbez.org.