The Chicago police union has made it clear that they will not report on their COVID-19 vaccine status or force officials to comply with the rules and get vaccinated in light of Lightfoot’s city mandate. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has called on city officials to submit their vaccination status or be placed on unpaid leave.
Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara even pointed out ahead of Lightfoot’s vaccine deadline that the city of Chicago could have a police force at 50% or less for this weekend coming up.
“That is not because of the FOP. That is 100 percent because of the mayor’s unwillingness to budge from her hard line. Whatever happens because of that manpower issue, that falls at the mayor’s doorstep,” Catanzara said ahead of the vaccine deadline.
Catanzara emphasized that he does not believe the city has the authority to mandate the vaccine to anybody and that they’ve made their status “very clear on everything.” He even criticized Lightfoot’s city portal, in which employees are supposed to submit their documentation. He told officers to “hold the line” and “not fall for it,” citing the mandate as the city trying to play hardball over manpower issues. He said all of it eventually falls at the mayor’s doorstep.
Catanzara said he will continue to fight alongside labor officials and those being placed on unpaid leave for their refusal to comply. He said the vaccine mandate deadline comes at one of the worst possible times when violent crime is already spiking and departments are facing officer shortages. Other officers in the department have asked for the vaccine mandate to be delayed so that they can continue to protect the community when it needs it most.
But Mayor Lightfoot has pushed back that the city “will be protected” after officers get vaccinated. She even told the Washington Post that Catanzara is threatening litigation and told him to “bring it.” She said the city is ready for whatever comes their way and that Catanzara was doing a “patent disservice” to his team members every single day for opposing the mandate. She said they are focused on maximizing the opportunity to create a “very safe workplace” and that the data is clear on vaccinations.
“The data is very clear. It is unfortunate that the FOP leadership has chosen to put out a counter-narrative. But the fact of the matter is, if you are not vaccinated, you are playing with your life, the life of your family, the life of your colleagues and members of the public,” Lightwood warned.
Catanzara shared with the Chicago Sun-Times that he can guarantee the no-pay status will not last more than 30 days, adding that there’s no way they can sustain a police department workforce at 50% capacity for more than seven days” without something budging. The city, however, has refused to work with the union over the issues as they continue to oppose the mandates or disclosing an officer’s vaccination status.
The union is continuing not to budge as they argue that they don’t believe the mayor can do this “in good conscience.” Officials say they don’t believe the mayor will risk sending half the police department home and subjecting the citizens of the city to that to send a political message, but some believe it is coming to that. Aldermen Marty Quinn and Matt O’Shea even issued a letter to the mayor adding that they are “extremely concerned” that Lightfoot’s mandates will put the communities in serious danger.
Democrats will do whatever they can to send a message – even if it means wiping out community safety entirely. Hopefully Lightfoot isn’t trying for another term.