The Chicago Police Department announced on Saturday that officers will be restricted from taking “elective time off” until further notice.
Although no reason was given for the decision in the memo to officers, the news comes amid twin crises for the Chicago Police Department: a skyrocketing rate of violence and a showdown between officers and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot over the city’s vaccine mandate.
“A memo issued Saturday said elective time off for officers will be restricted, and will require the approval of a supervisor with a rank of deputy chief of higher within the officer’s chain of command,” CBS Chicago reported over the weekend. “A statement to be read at officer roll calls did not specify the reason for the restriction. But it comes amid a standoff between City Hall and the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police over the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.”
The city’s teachers union and Chicago city workers have also asked for a relaxation of the city’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement for all municipal employees, according to the teaching news site, ChalkBeat. So far, though, the mayor’s office will agree only to postpone the vaccine deadline until the end of 2021, and those city employees who choose not to receive the vaccine before then must be tested for COVID-19 twice weekly until they get the shot.
City workers, though, were required to reveal their vaccination status to the city of Chicago by last Thursday at midnight, using an online portal. Chicago’s FOP and the city have sued each other over the mandate and the reporting requirement, and Chicago’s police union president, John Catanzara, has encouraged officers not to report their vaccination status.
“Friday morning, the city filed a complaint against the FOP and Catanzara, for supporting a ‘work stoppage or strike regarding the vaccine mandate.’ Both state law and the FOP contract with the city prohibit officers from going on strike,” CBS Chicago noted. “Hours later, the FOP filed its own lawsuit against the city, Lightfoot, and Chicago Police Supt. David Brown, accusing them of failing to properly negotiate with the union over the vaccine mandate.”
A Chicago judge issued a temporary restraining order on Friday barring the FOP and Catanzara from making any public statements discouraging officers from complying with the city’s vaccine regulations until the court is able to hold a first hearing on the subject in late October.
Catanzara and the FOP say they have not discouraged officers from making personal decisions about the COVID-19 vaccine, but they feel the city does not have the authority to force officers to receive the vaccine, nor to turn over medical information to other city officials.
The conflict has the potential to make a major impact on crime in the city. Members of the Chicago police who fail to report their vaccination status to the city risk being put on unpaid leave — a policy that, it is estimated, could affect up to half the force, according to Catanzara.
“If we suspect the numbers are true and we get a large number of our members who stand firm on their beliefs that this is an overreach, and they’re not going to supply the information in the portal or submit to testing, then it’s safe to say the city of Chicago will have a police force at 50% or less for this weekend coming up,” Catanzara told officers in a recorded message, per CNN. “That is not because of the FOP, that is 100% because of the mayor’s unwillingness to budge from her hard line. So whatever happens because of the manpower issue, that falls at the mayor’s doorstep.”
Chicago is, as The Daily Wire has previously reported, in the midst of a crime wave. The city just recorded its deadliest September in decades, according to numbers released by CPD.