Illinois Governor JB Pritzker has offered help from the state’s National Guard in the event of a potential Chicago police officer shortage after police union leaders urged members to meet the city’s vaccination requirement for employees.
City workers face a deadline until Friday to visit a health information portal and provide information on whether they have received the COVID-19 vaccine.
Biweekly testing will be allowed until the end of the year, after which time employees will either need to be fully vaccinated or have a valid exemption from vaccinations.
The decision pits the union against city hall, as Lightfoot adheres to an order that all employees must report their vaccination status by midnight.
Catanzara predicted a significant drop in police manpower levels this weekend, saying, “I guarantee at least half of the stay-at-home department will arrive by Saturday morning.”
Pritzker said he has offered all available government resources, including the Illinois National Guard, in case of shortages, but the city of Chicago has yet to agree.
“I think you now understand that you can’t march into a city without coordinating the National Guard and you can’t run state police into a city without coordinating with the Chicago Police Department,” he said. That’s why we continue to talk to them at every opportunity, but we need the city’s leadership to ask us to do this,” he said.
Lightfoot explained that he does not expect a shortage of officers, but contingency plans are in place.
“I don’t want to go into all the details of the contingency plan, but the state police have been an incredible partner with us, especially over the past two years, so if we have to turn to these resources, then it will be us,” he said.
In statements after Thursday’s City Council meeting, Lightfoot said the city would not begin placing employees on “non-disciplinary grace status” for several days after the start of his new term, allowing authorities to determine if employees were inside. compliance with the directive. He added that Friday’s deadline is a reminder that they are serious about implementing the measure.
“Tomorrow is a real day and our expectation is that people will comply with it,” he said.