News & Politics

Chicago Mayor Blinks in Showdown With City Police Over Vaccine Mandate

Chicago Mayor Blinks in Showdown With City Police Over Vaccine Mandate
AP Photo/Teresa Crawford

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has decided on a strategic withdrawal in her battle with the city’s police over the vaccine mandate. She announced the city was suing the cops for “engaging in, supporting, and encouraging” a work stoppage or strike.

But the mayor’s office also announced that because they had to go through thousands of declarations to see who got the shots and who didn’t, “no one will be asked to go home or not allowed to work.”

The deadline for city employees to declare their vaccine status is today

Lightfoot made it clear she was not backing down on her promise to enforce the mandate.


“As Chicago’s Mayor, I cannot and will not stand idly by while the rhetoric of conspiracy theorists threatens the health and safety of Chicago’s residents and first responders. President Catanzara has time and again deliberately misled our police officers by lying about the requirements of the policy and falsely claiming that there will be no repercussions if officers are insubordinate and refuse to follow a City and Department directive or order. Notably Catanzara has urged officers to reject the City’s vaccine policy and has repeatedly instructed police officers to refuse to comply with the City’s lawful directive which requires all City employees to report their COVID 19 vaccination status by October 15. By doing so, and by predicting that 50% or more officers will violate their oaths and not report for duty, Catanzara is encouraging an unlawful strike and work stoppage which carries the potential to undermine public safety and expose our residents to irreparable harm, particularly during an ongoing pandemic.”

No one knows how many officers have not been vaccinated. It’s likely that Catanzara doesn’t know either, so his warning that 50 percent of officers would be told to stay home is nonsense.

But what if it’s only 10 percent? There are 12,000 uniformed officers serving in Chicago. Taking 1,200 officers off the streets would be extremely dangerous — and irresponsible.

Catanzara doesn’t appear ready to back down.

For her part. Lightfoot knows that she can compel anyone to do anything in Chicago. She’s not backing down either.

“What we have seen from the Fraternal Order of Police and particularly the leadership, is a lot of misinformation, a lot of half-truths and frankly flat-out lies in order to induce an insurrection and we’re not having that,” she said. “We want to make it very, very clear that the law is on our side.”

The FOP has filed a motion to dismiss the complaint. Mayor Lightfoot said she expects to hear something from the courts sometime Friday.

For the moment, an uneasy pause has settled over the city as the two sides battle it out in court. The cops have already won a moral victory by exposing Lightfoot’s “deadline” to be a mirage. She may be trying to give the police a little more time to cooperate.

Governor J.B. Pritzker has informed Lightfoot that he would be willing to deploy the National Guard if she requested it. But the mayor and police brass don’t think that will be necessary.

“Chicago police department will be fully staffed and ready to protect the citizens of this city,” said Brian McDermott, chief of operations.

We can only hope.

Related: Chicago Mayor Lightfoot and Police Union at Odds Over Vaccine Mandate

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