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Indiana rolls out the welcome mat to Chicago cops

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Almost every police department in northwestern Indiana is getting flooded with phone calls and emails from Chicago cops looking for a department that doesn’t have a vaccine mandate.

I-Team 8 talked to the Munster chief of police; he has one opening and his office has been overwhelmed with inquires.

“In the past couple days, we have had several. My administrative assistant is very busy fielding phone calls from Chicago,” said the Munster police chief, Steve Scheckel, who on Monday posted an emergency hiring process on the department’s website.

The goal of the posting was to attract qualified police officers. The posting went up three days after Chicago police were ordered to get the vaccine or face being removed from the department.  

“My discussions with other chiefs in northwest Indiana, we are all of kind of the same mindset. We welcome Chicago police officers. They are already trained. They have plenty of experience we would welcome to our ranks anywhere in northwest Indiana,” Scheckel said. 

As a result of the Chicago government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, hundreds of Chicago police officers could be placed on leave in the coming weeks. With an eye on opportunity, U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, an Indiana Republican, rolled out the welcome mat to police officers in Chicago looking for jobs that don’t require the vaccine.  

“Yes, they are going to do that. We are not going to hopefully do that here in Indiana. We need to fill some slots. Ironically, Nathan Schmitt, our chief of police in my hometown of Jasper, over five hours from Chicago, had an inquiry from a Chicago Police Department employee,” Braun said. 

I-Team 8 called the Jasper Police Department and confirmed it had received a call earlier this week from a Chicago cop looking to move from the Illinois city.

Braun said, “When you are putting your life on the line every time you suit up, especially in a place like Chicago that is acting more like the federal government in terms of its willingness to issue mandates.”

The senator from Indiana says Chicago’s vaccine mandate is an overreach of government. He says he favors the approach here in Indiana: Take COVID seriously and encourage people to get the vaccine unless they have good reason not to.  

“But shutting down your economy or shutting down your police forces, that is government being impractical even though you may a good intention underlying it,” Braun said. 

Police salaries in Munster are lower than Chicago, the chief told I-Team 8, but the lack of a vaccine mandate, and lower taxes and cost of living have been is selling points to Chicago cops looking to move.