Chicago cops' union resisting vax mandate in a city on the brink of domination by armed criminals

Civil order already is crumbling in Chicago, with its horrendous toll of murders, car-jackings, and looting of stores spreading into downtown and affluent neighborhoods from the ghetto strongholds where lawlessness has been rampant for years.  The one thing Chicago cannot afford to do is lose a substantial number of cops, yet the actions of Mayor Lori Lightfoot threaten to do that, pushing ahead with a vaccine mandate, whose deadline for reporting vax status just expired at midnight Friday night.

Alice Yin of the Chicago Tribune writes:

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the police union are staring down a stalemate over the city's COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Local Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara directed members to defy Friday's deadline to report their shot status. The mayor warned of discipline if they do.

On Friday she took matters a step further, announcing the city's Law Department has filed legal action seeking court intervention against the FOP and Catanzara "for engaging in, supporting, and encouraging a work stoppage or strike." The union is not allowed to strike.

Catanzara and the FOP in turn filed their own lawsuit against the city, Lightfoot and police Superintendent David Brown.

Late Friday, a judge issued an injunction against Catanzara, precluding him from publicly encouraging his members to disobey vaccine reporting rules.

Gagging a union head in an active dispute with his employer seems wildly inconsistent with the First Amendment, but we seem to be in a post-Constitution regime at the moment.  Lightfoot is pushing hard to enforce the mandate and has vowed "consequences" and is using confrontational language:

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said officers who refuse to report their vaccine status "do so at their peril." 

"Insubordination is not something that we can tolerate," Lightfoot said. 


"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."

She also said Catanzara was "encouraging a work stoppage or strike."

That last charge is a lie, as the FOP pointed out in a tweet:

The person who would be telling cops to stay home and not work is Lightfoot herself.  The cops don't want to be forced to reveal their personal health information or to receive an experimental gene therapy that doesn't seem to fully prevent getting infected or passing along the virus.

But for all the bluster, Lightfoot is not pushing ahead immediately to force unvaxxed and non-reporting cops off the streets:

Since issuing the mandate, Lightfoot's approach has softened. Backing down from a rule that mandated vaccination for city employees, she has since agreed to give the unvaccinated an alternative: twice-weekly tests for the rest of the year.

Moreover, bureaucratic inefficiency is a factor:

[T]he city said it will take them days to sort out who got the shots and who didn't.

The worry was that many police officers would have to be sent home, leaving the city without officers. But the city said going through thousands of records will take time, and no one will be asked to go home or not allowed to work.

So the specter of an apocalypse of fewer cops and thugs running wild is being postponed.  One option that I suspect is being explored by Lightfoot and Illinois Democrat Governor Jay Pritzker is calling up the National Guard.  But that carries a lot of risks, because Guardsmen are not trained in law enforcement and, as has happened in other situations of urban unrest, may resort to an armed response quicker and more readily than trained cops — especially if they are fired upon by the very well armed gang members who don't seem to be encumbered by Illinois's strict gun control laws.

FOP local president Catanzara seems to be contemplating a run for mayor, as he strongly hinted in a video released late Friday:

Mayor Lightfoot is being evasive:

Chicago is far from the only city facing a potential crisis from forcing vaccines on cops who refuse them. In Los Angeles:

Nearly 40 percent of LAPD officers have not gotten a shot, according to the department. "We are almost at a standstill," says William Briggs, president of the Los Angeles Police Commission, the city's civilian oversight board. "Officers are refusing to be vaccinated; they are taking a hard line."  

In San Diego:

A union representing San Diego police officers is holding firm in its opposition to a requirement that all city employees get vaccinated against COVID-19, arguing Wednesday that department ranks could fall to their lowest number in years if the mandate is enforced.

The city of San Diego will require all of its employees to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 1, 2021. If city police officers are given a choice between complying or losing their jobs, many who responded to a recent survey have said they will simply quit. Union representatives are using those numbers to threaten the risks of a depleted law enforcement corps.


If there is a showdown in Chicago or any of the other big cities forcing vaccines on cops, Catanzara has a point worth remembering:

"We have a profession that nobody wants to work in," Catanzara said on Fox News Thursday night. "It gave us a little bit stronger position. You can't lay off or get rid of thousands of cops because you'll never replace them. We can't even replace what we've got now."

Photo credit: ABC7 Chicago screen grab.

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