Fact check: False claim Indiana State Police offered to hire Chicago officers fired over vaccinations

·4 min read

The claim: Indiana State Police is hiring Chicago officers fired for refusing vaccination

With COVID-19 vaccine mandates becoming the new norm in some states, Chicago police officers had a decision to make.

All city employees and volunteers in the Windy City had to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15, according to a citywide vaccine mandate announced Aug. 25.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot added on Oct. 8 that all employees had to report their vaccination status by the October deadline. Those who failed to report their status would be placed in "a non-disciplinary, no pay status," according to a press release.

Employees not fully vaccinated, which is considered two weeks after the last vaccine dose, by Oct. 15 must get COVID-19 tests twice a week at their own expense. After Dec. 31, however, employees must be fully vaccinated unless they received an exemption.

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But a social media post claims if Chicago officers are fired over their vaccination status, they could quickly find a job not that far from the city.

"BREAKING REPORT: Indiana State Police Offers to Hire Chicago Officers Who REFUSE TO COMPLY With Vax Mandate," reads an Oct. 21 Instagram post that accrued more than 2,500 likes over three days. The post is a screenshot of a tweet from the same day by Chuck Callesto, who unsuccessfully ran for a Congress seat representing Florida's third district in 2018.

The claim follows an Oct. 20 tweet from Indiana State Police spokesperson Sgt. Glen Fifield urging Chicago police officers to switch jobs, as the Indiana State Police doesn't have a vaccine mandate, The Hill reported.

While the state police would consider any qualified member applying to join the force, they aren't recruiting unvaccinated Chicago officers and haven't made any blanket hiring offer as the post asserts, a spokesman told USA TODAY.

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USA TODAY reached out to the poster and Callesto for comment.

Police not seeking to hire Chicago officers

Fifield's tweet was deleted shortly after posting, which Fifield told the Chicago Tribune was because it listed an incorrect website.

Fifield told the paper he wouldn't comment on vaccine mandates, saying the state police do not "stick our noses into the politics of other agencies in Indiana or outside," the newspaper reported.

Capt. Ronald Galaviz, chief public information officer for the Indiana State Police, told USA TODAY in a Twitter direct message the force is "taking applications for anyone interested in a career in law enforcement."

Galaviz added any applicant still has to go through the entire application process, including recruit school, and they won't be directly hired without that.

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"To say we are outright hiring anybody directly from any law enforcement agency is inaccurate," Galaviz said.

In an Oct. 18 press conference, Lightfoot announced about 65% of the city's police department had complied with the vaccine mandate and submitted their status by the Oct. 15 deadline.

That also includes civilian employees in the department. It's not clear how many police officers had submitted their vaccination status, NBC Chicago reported.

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While the state police department in Indiana isn't recruiting Chicago officers, other political figures have pushed these officers to make the move across state lines.

Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., said on Twitter he would welcome any Chicago officers looking for a job.

"My office stands ready to help connect Chicago police officers to an Indiana police department that is hiring now and doesn't have a vaccine mandate," he tweeted Oct. 19. "Welcome to Indiana!"

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that the Indiana State Police department is hiring Chicago officers fired for refusing vaccination. A spokesman for the agency told USA TODAY it was taking applications from anyone interested in joining the force, but it is not "outright hiring" any Chicago officers.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Indiana police didn't offer to hire fired Chicago officers

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