Urging its members not to comply with the city’s vaccine reporting mandate, the Chicago police union plans to take Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration to court, even though unvaccinated city workers will go into “no-pay” status starting Friday.
Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara said in a video Tuesday that sending home non-compliant officers could cut the city’s police presence over the weekend in half.
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.
City Hall has announced that any city employees who fail to report their vaccination status by Friday will be placed in a “non-disciplinary, no-pay status.
But Catanzara instructed rank-and-file officers to file exemptions to receiving the vaccine, but not to enter any information into the city mandated vaccine portal.
* Also Wednesday…
Former Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President Dean Angelo Sr., 67, who led the union during the tumultuous years immediately after the shooting of Laquan McDonald, has died after a weekslong battle with COVID-19.
Mr. Angelo, who served as president of the police union from 2014 to 2017, died Tuesday, according to his son, Chicago Police Sgt. Dean Angelo Jr. He said his father had tested positive for the coronavirus in mid-September and had been in intensive care since Sept. 26. His son had earlier declined to say whether his dad had been vaccinated.
More than 460 American law enforcement officers have died from Covid-19 infections tied to their work since the start of the pandemic, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, making the coronavirus by far the most common cause of duty-related deaths in 2020 and 2021. More than four times as many officers have died from Covid-19 as from gunfire in that period. There is no comprehensive accounting of how many American police officers have been sickened by the virus, but departments across the country have reported large outbreaks in the ranks.
While the virus has ravaged policing, persuading officers to take a vaccine has often been a struggle, even though the shots have proven to be largely effective in preventing severe disease and death.
Some elected officials say police officers have a higher responsibility to get vaccinated because they are regularly interacting with members of the public and could unknowingly spread the virus. The debate echoes concerns from earlier in the pandemic, when police officers in some cities resisted wearing masks in public.
Yet as more departments in recent weeks have considered requiring members to be vaccinated, officers and their unions have loudly pushed back, in some cases threatening resignations or flooding systems with requests for exemptions.