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Chicago Cops Haven’t Been Wearing Masks For Months, But Lightfoot Vows To Crack Down

Officers and other city workers should be disciplined if they're not wearing masks, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.

Chicago Police officers respond in the Loop on May 30, 2020 as protests occurred downtown Chicago for the second day and night in a row following George Floyd's death in Minneapolis.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — The Police Department needs to crack down on officers who aren’t wearing masks, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday.

Chicago is in its second surge of coronavirus cases — and masks are one of the most effective ways of stopping the virus’s spread. And while Chicago’s police officers are required to wear masks on the job, they seldom do, despite more than 900 officers having tested positive and at least three dying from the virus.

Everyone in Chicago needs to be better about wearing masks to slow the virus’s spread, Lightfoot at a news conference, but she specifically singled our police officers and other city workers.

“We all have to use the tools that are available to us now and take advantage of the opportunity for ourselves, our family, friends, people in our network but also our neighbors across this city,” Lightfoot said. “Let me also just say that we as a city [need to] better ourselves in mask-wearing. This includes our public-facing departments and agencies like Police and Fire, as well as Streets and Sanitation.

“… I’ve asked the inspectors of the Chicago Police Department to start ensuring folks in every unit across the city wear a mask.”

Lightfoot said she’s asked the leaders in her administration to come up with ways to get their workers to wear masks. And city workers who don’t start wearing masks should be punished, she said.

“We are asking our commissioners in those departments — but, truly, in every city department — to build updated strategies to ensure that your workers get the message,” Lightfoot said. “They must wear masks.

In an emailed statement, police spokesman Officer Anthony Spicuzza said the department will launch a “multi-faceted campaign” to get offers to wear their masks more often and to practice social distancing.

The campaign will include video reminders, signs and reminders over police radio, Spicuzza said in the statement.

“And if they don’t get the message, you need to take decisive action up to and including discipline. … And where they fail, the time for educating people into compliance is simply over. If you’re an officer, you’re a firefighter, a paramedic, if you’re a city employee, I’m telling you now: As your mayor, as your boss, you must wear a mask. Period.”

A Police Department spokesman previously said officers have been provided with personal protective equipment and they are required to wear masks and gloves during the pandemic.

Yet officers have frequently been seen and photographed throughout the coronavirus crisis without masks or other safety measures.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called on everyone to wear masks and face coverings, and the state has required face coverings when people are in public or unable to social distance since May 1.

Masks can help prevent the wearer from getting sick — but they’re even more useful in stopping someone who is already ill from unknowingly passing the virus to someone else, experts have said.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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