News & Politics

Sheriffs to Vaccine-Mandating Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot: Pound Sand

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

Illinois sheriffs are declining to provide mutual aid to the Chicago Police Department, citing Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate and overall anti-police policies.

Lightfoot set a vaccine status self-reporting deadline of midnight Friday for the city’s emergency responders. However, Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara objected, arguing the policy is a violation of officers’ rights.

By Monday, less than two-thirds of the CPD had complied. That day, the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System, an association of police departments, sent a bulletin to its members. The ILEAS was concerned that, in the event of a large-scale incident while the mandate issue was being resolved, Chicago might require mutual aid, and they were looking to assess the amount of support they could expect.

The response from neighboring jurisdictions was less than enthusiastic.

“It doesn’t make sense to say I only want my residents touching vaccinated people, but I’m going to send all these potentially unvaccinated people from other municipalities to replace them,” said DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick, pointing out the illogical nature of the request.

Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain punched another hole in the argument for providing mutual aid. “I don’t feel like the onus is on us to go in there in an emergency situation that was created by poor government and a lack of support the officers receive.” He’s not the only sheriff to feel that Lightfoot’s decision to send home able-bodied officers is her choice and not his problem. “You make that decision, you figure out how to keep your city safe,” said Kendall County Sheriff Dwight Baird.

And then there’s the problem of Cook County in general.

“I also will not allow my deputies to be subjected to use of force in the city and be under the prosecutorial jurisdiction of the Cook County State’s Attorney,” said Hain. “It just seems to be a wild card without a clear understanding of what is reality and what is not. I have a great deal of faith in our state’s attorney here and I understand how she would review a case, but in Cook County, how does Jussie Smollett get so much attention and get released, but a police officer gets charged with excessive use of force and aggravated battery?”

Related: Chicago Mayor Blinks in Showdown With City Police Over Vaccine Mandate

As of Wednesday, one-third of the CPD (over 3,000 officers) had not complied with the order to submit their vaccination status, and the department has begun the process of sending them home. Lightfoot is pretending this isn’t a big deal. “The number of folks who are actually—after being given the opportunities and even a direct order—saying ‘no’ is very small. Very small.”

In a breathtaking failure of self-awareness, she went on to say, “So, I’m not seeing—at least for this day—that there’s gonna be any disruption in our ability to keep our neighborhoods safe.” But then again, when you are already failing to keep your neighborhoods safe, further failure is technically not a disruption.