Illinois Governor JB Pritzker offered the State National Guard’s help with a possible police shortage in Chicago after police union leaders urged members to defy the city’s demands by vaccines for employees.
City workers face a Friday deadline to visit a health information portal and report whether they have received the COVID-19 vaccine.
Bi-weekly testing will be permitted until the end of the year, after which time employees will either need to be fully vaccinated or have a valid exemption to be vaccinated.
Calling the vaccination mandate an “illegal order,” John Catanzara, chairman of the Chicago chapter of the Fraternal Order of the Police, urges union members to document any refusal to fill out information on the vaccine portal, and says that the union will “deal with her” as the mandate comes into effect.
The move puts the union on a collision course with city hall, as Lightfoot sticks to its order that all employees report their vaccination status by midnight.
Catanzara predicted a significant drop in police numbers this weekend, saying “I guarantee you at least half of the department will stay home on Saturday morning.”
In the event of a shortage, Pritzker said he has offered all available state resources, including the Illinois National Guard, but the city of Chicago has yet to agree.
“I think you now understand that you can’t just send the National Guard to a city without coordination, and you can’t just send the state police to a city without coordinating with the Chicago Police Department,” did he declare. “So at every turn, we have ongoing conversations with them, but we need the city leaders to ask us.”
Lightfoot said she didn’t expect an officer shortage, but explained there were contingency plans in place.
“I don’t want to go into all the details of the emergency plan, but the state police have been incredible partners with us, especially over the past two years, so if there is any need for us to look into those resources, then we will, ”she said.
In remarks following Thursday’s city council meeting, Lightfoot said the city will not begin putting employees on “non-disciplinary non-pay status” for several days after the start of the new term, allowing responsible for determining whether employees are not in compliance with the directive. She added that Friday’s deadline is a reminder that they are serious about implementing the measure.
“Tomorrow is a real day, and we expect people to comply with it,” she said.