On Tuesday, Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge #7 (FOP) President John Catanzara posted a video instructing police officers on how to go against the city’s vaccine mandate.
As reported by ABC News, officers must report their immunization status by Friday. “Under the mandate, all city employees must submit their vaccination status by the end of the workweek. Unvaccinated workers who refuse to submit to semiweekly testing will be placed on unpaid leave,” the outlet noted.
According to an October 8th statement from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s press office, “[City] Employees who fail to report their vaccination status by October 15, 2021, will be placed in a non-disciplinary, no pay status.”
It went on:
Employees who are not fully vaccinated by October 15, 2021, including employees who have received an approved medical or religious exemption, must undergo regular COVID-19 testing on a twice weekly basis, with tests separated by 3-4 days. Employees are responsible for obtaining those tests on their own time and at their own expense and reporting those results to the City. This testing option will only be available through December 31, 2021. Thereafter, employees must be fully vaccinated unless they have received an approved medical or religious exemption.
While the Chicago Police Department is required to report vaccination status or be a part of the regular bi-weekly testing, the City of Chicago continues to bargain in good faith with the Fraternal Order of Police and the Policemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association to reach a fair and workable policy that will keep our first responders safe.
Catanzara reportedly said that officers shouldn’t “fill out the portal information,” but they should input requests for exemptions on Thursday.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported:
The union president said that the FOP already has a class-action grievance drafted to cover “everything under the sun” that police officers might lose if they refuse to get vaccinated, including pay and benefits.
“I’ve made my status very clear as far as the vaccine, but I do not believe the city has the authority to mandate that to anybody, let alone that information about your medical history,” Catanzara said in the video, later adding, “Hold the line.”
“It’s safe to say that the city of Chicago will have a police force at 50% or less for this weekend coming up,” he noted.
“I can guarantee you that no-pay status will not last more than 30 days,” Catanzara reportedly said. “There’s no way they’re going to be able to sustain a police department workforce at 50% capacity or less for more than seven days without something budging.”
He pressed back against the actions of Mayor Lightfoot, saying, “This could have all been avoided but it literally has been like everything else with this mayor for the last two and a half years: ‘Do it or else. Because I said so.’ Well, we say otherwise.”
Catanzara has been previously involved in controversy during his career. “In August, Catanzara was forced to apologize for comparing Lightfoot’s vaccine mandate to Nazi Germany during the Holocaust, an analogy condemned by the Anti-Defamation League,” the Sun-Times noted.
Lightfoot seemed to dismiss Catanzara’s statements at a press conference on Wednesday.
She said, “There’s all kinds of things that that guy will say, must of it untrue, patently false. We’re not trying to do anything other than create a safe workplace.”
“He’s threatening litigation, I say bring it. Because we’re going to create a safe workplace for all of our employees and by doing that, we create safety for members of the public as well,” she noted.
She was asked, “What will the city do if over 50% of cops go into work and get sent home this week?” Lightfoot reportedly answered, “I don’t expect that to happen.”
The Chicago Police Department has been involved in a nationwide effort to recruit police officers, but Chicago is still struggling with an “officer shortage,” as reported by The Daily Wire.
“Chicago police officers aren’t only retiring in record numbers, many are leaving the big city department for smaller ones,” the city’s CBS affiliate reported Tuesday. “It’s contributing to an officer shortage that many city leaders believe will only get worse before it gets better.”
The Daily Wire added:
Officers who spoke to CBS Chicago noted that the problems go beyond simple burnout, though that is a contributing factor to many officers’ decision to leave the department. Officers cited long working hours, mandatory overtime, and low pay as reasons they departed Chicago for other cities or decided to simply leave the force entirely.
At least one Alderman, though, added that being a Chicago cop is a thankless job, and it has only gotten harder in recent years.
“People don’t want to be the police. The police don’t want to be the police,” Alderman Anthony Beale of Chicago’s 9th Ward told the paper, adding that the problem is actually worse than the city will admit.
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