CHICAGO, IL – As Friday’s deadline for city workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 came and went, the president of Chicago’s police union currently estimates that at least 3,200 officers are currently defying the mandate, leaving law enforcement and the administration of Mayor Lori Lightfoot effectively at a stalemate.
Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara said thousands of officers are refusing to report their vaccination status to the city, despite memos and emails having been sent out by officials threatening disciplinary action if they do not comply.
“The unofficial number we have is about over 3,200…so about of third of the department,” Catanzara said, who is insisting that the vaccination mandate is not legal since the city did not negotiate terms with the union.
“All of those things are a change in your employment policies. You have to negotiate with us what that looks like. The city has refused to do that,” he said.
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However, the true test will be this upcoming Monday, when Catanzara said holdout officers will be called in and asked by supervisors to comply with the mandate.
“If they refuse, it sounds like they’re going to go into a no pay status, effective immediately,” Catanzara said.
The memos sent out by Mayor Lightfoot’s office to police who are in violation of the mandate stated that the officers in question will be subjected to a disciplinary investigation that could “result in a penalty up to and including separation from the Chicago Police Department” and that “sworn members of the department who retire while under an investigation may be denied retirement credentials.”
Mass firings over the vaccination mandate couldn’t come at a worse time for Chicago, which has been in the grip of a massive wave of crime and violence for some time now.
In the meantime, the union has filed a lawsuit against the city due to the mandate.