Tensions between Chicago’s mayor and police over the city’s vaccine mandate grew this week as the head of the police union urged officers to ignore a deadline to report their vaccination status.
Chicago city employees, including police officers, are required to report their vaccination status by Friday. Employees who aren’t vaccinated will be required to get tested twice weekly, a temporary measure until the end of the year as the city decides what to do with unvaccinated employees.
But the head of the Chicago branch of the Fraternal Order of Police, John Catanzara, urged members of the union in a video message this week to “hold the line.”
He told officers not to submit their vaccination statuses, and instead to flood the city with exemption requests on Thursday.
Officers and other city employees who fail to report their vaccination status by Friday will “be placed in a non-disciplinary, no pay status,” according to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office.
Catanzara said that “it’s safe to say the city of Chicago will have a police force at 50 percent or less” over the weekend.
“Whatever happens because of that manpower issue, that falls at the mayor’s doorstep,” he said.
Lightfoot (D) said at a news conference on Wednesday that the city was “prepared,” adding that Catanzara was “doing a patent disservice to his members every single day” by encouraging resistance against the vaccines.