CHICAGO — Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza is pushing for a new law to protect Chicago police officers, including her brother, “severely affected” by COVID-19.

Mendoza held a press conference Tuesday to announce a bill being filed by State Sen. Bill Cunningham and State Rep. Jay Hoffman aimed to support officers who “could be left without benefits by the city’s policy of refusing full duty disability benefits to the officers severely affected by Covid in the days before the vaccines were available,” according to a release from her office.

Mendoza is a former city clerk, former state lawmaker and ran against Mayor Lori Lightfoot four-years ago.  

She said politics has nothing to do with this announcement on legislation to give benefits to officers and firefighters who have permanent disabilities due to their Covid infection. 

Mendoza’s brother was a sergeant detective when he contracted Covid in November 2020, before vaccinations were available.

Since then, Mendoza said her brother has lost the use of his left arm and has had multiple strokes.

When his case became the first Covid disability case to go before the pension board for enhanced duty disability compensation — which would be 75% of his salary and health benefits, it was denied. He was given regular disability, that is a limited 50% of his salary and no health benefits.

Mendoza contends that it was Mayor Lightfoot’s appointees on the pension board, under her direction, who denied the claims of her brother and others, including officer, Diana Cordova, who was at Tuesday’s press conference and is still going through appeals process.

“And for the department to one day call me to headquarters and take my badge away and my ID, and said goodbye we don’t need you anymore, you’re not fit for duty. And then the pension board to deny me,” said CPD Officer Cordova.

“For people like this officer and for my detective sergeant brother. The illness is obviously catastrophic. But I would say that, the betrayal by the city that they served so honorably for so many years, it’s not just as bad it’s worse,” said Mendoza.

The mayor denies any involvement in directing appointees to rule against these claims, and her office said in a statement, in part: “What the mayor has urged of the city representatives across all pension boards is that those pension boards consult outside medical experts to advise the boards on Covid-related disability claims and be transparent with claimants about the standards that must be met to have consideration for full or partial disability. 

She also held a press conference to address the issue which can be viewed in its entirety in this video:

The bill that is going in front of state lawmakers in Springfield Tuesday is HB 3162. It calls on the state to mandate “duty disability” entitlements be given to officers and firefighters who have serious complications from Covid.

If passed it would not only be for future claims, but give those benefits retroactively to first responders who have already been denied.