Mayor Lori Lightfoot flashes—sort of—about her vaccination mission for police officers

The police union’s warning that Chicago will have to make do with only half of its police force this weekend dissipated when Mayor Lori Lightfoot blinked on Thursday—sort of.

Lightfoot said there is an “emergency plan” to protect Chicago, including the Illinois State Police, but it won’t be necessary this weekend because it will take a few days for the city to determine which employees are complying with them. its vaccination mission.

The mayor has made it clear that he intends to implement Friday’s deadline for city employees to upload their vaccination status to the city’s data portal, apply for medical or religious exemptions, and agree to test twice a week if they are not vaccinated.

However, even if they ignore the mission, anyone who comes to work will not be sent home immediately because City Hall is determined to get it right.

“As you can imagine, it will take some time before we are sure that the information is correct. We want to make sure we reach out to people who don’t seem compatible to determine if this is indeed the case,” Lightfoot said at a press conference after the City Council meeting on Thursday.

“We want to make a belt-hanger on top of that and give people the benefit of the doubt. But once we realize that people don’t comply with the simple request of saying yes or no, or that I’m going to use testing options, yes, we’ll start moving forward and putting people in the free status.”

Lightfoot hedged when asked how long it would take for City Hall to check and recheck.

“It won’t take weeks. But it won’t be Saturday or Sunday. It will take us a few days to make sure we get the information right… I don’t think this process will be completed over the weekend,” he said.

The mayor has asked officers assigned to work the weekend, especially those on the “24 hour shift”, to report for work. If they do not, the punishment for this “disobedience” will be swift and severe.

“People need to show up. They have to do their job. If they are placed in a non-paying status, they will be told by a supervisor if the time comes. And until then, report back for duty,” he said.

Earlier this week, Chief of Police Brotherhood John Catanzara warned that Chicago may have to go through with a police force of “50% or less” this weekend.

Catanzara has urged its members not to report their COVID-19 vaccination status, directing them to report to work on Friday as scheduled and forcing the city to send them home.

Ind. Anthony Napolitano (41st) has urged the mayor to step down or risk “chaos” in a city with 1,000 vacancies battling a continuing rise in murders.

Lightfoot said Thursday he doesn’t expect a shortage of officers, even after the sentencing phase begins.

The mayor said there was “of course” a “contingency plan” for the officer shortage. He declined to divulge details, except to say that the Illinois State Police “have been incredible partners with us, especially over the past two years” and that “if we have to tap into these resources, then we will.”

Surrounded by First Deputy Police Superintendent Eric Carter and Chicago Police Department chief of operations Brian McDermott, Lightfoot expressed confidence that ordinary police officers “will challenge an FOP leadership who does not tell them the truth, misleads them and misleads them.” It’s the same as pushing them off a cliff without a parachute.”

“I know our men and women in the Police Department are smarter than that. And I am sure they will be in harmony. And if they are not, of course there will be consequences.”

Sheriff Tom Dart also mandated vaccinations for all correctional officers at Cook County Penitentiary, with a deadline on Sunday for the officers to at least receive their first sentence, despite fierce opposition from their union, Teamsters Local 700.

Local 700 Secretary Treasurer Anthony McGee issued an order from Dart weeks ago that officers disclose their vaccination status and that Teamsters did not urge members to collectively refuse. McGees said the officers who withheld this information have not been disciplined so far.

“The union strongly believes this is a mandatory bargaining issue,” McGee said. “We said it had to be the members’ choice.”

However, Martin Malin, retired employment law professor at Chicago-Kent Law School, said the consensus among most employment lawyers is that vaccine orders will be upheld by courts and labor boards, and employers don’t have to negotiate with workers about it. .

Contributed by Andy Grimm

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