In Chicago, half of the police officers are suspended for not saying if they were vaccinated against the coronavirus | Mayor Lori Lightfoot takes on the union

The Chicago mayor’s office will suspend half of its police officers from midnight this Friday for refusing to report whether they were vaccinated against the coronavirus. The measure strains relations between part of the force and Lori Lightfoot, the mayor of the city with the highest number of murders in the United States.

“I will not sit idly by as rhetoric from conspiracy theorists threatens the health and safety of Chicagoans and first responders“said the mayor in a statement urging all workers employed by the third largest city in the country to reveal if they were immunized against covid-19.

In addition, he accused the head of the local police union, John Catanzara, of “deliberately misleading” police officers “lying about the policy requirements and falsely claiming that there will be no retaliation if they refuse to follow a directive or order of the City and the Department”. Those who refuse will have a few days of grace to explain themselves, but face being put on leave without pay and ultimately fired.

Catanzara has threatened legal action, saying the union will request a temporary restraining order to prevent officials from applying the mandate. However, on Thursday night, the city of Chicago filed a lawsuit against him. “He has deliberately misled our police officers by lying about the policy requirements and falsely stating that there will be no retaliation if they refuse to follow a directive or order from the City and the Department, “Lightfoot stated.

The communal chief also pointed out that state law and the union contract prohibit the Chicago police from going on strike. The mayor accused Catanzara of “encouraging an illegal strike and a work stoppage which has the potential to undermine public safety and expose our residents to irreparable harm, particularly during the ongoing pandemic. “

For its part, Catanzara asked the 13,000 Chicago police to stand firm, arguing that “there is no way they can keep a police department workforce at 50 percent capacity. or less for more than seven days without something moving. “He also said that” the non-payment situation will not last more than 30 days. “

Chicago, the city with the most murders in the United States

The city now leads the number of murders once again nationwide, with 639 as of last Wednesday, 55 percent more than two years ago, according to data from the Chicago Police Department. Shootings in turn grew by 68 percent compared to 2019, rising to 2,866 this year through Oct. 13, according to the Chicago Police Department. Car thefts climbed to 1295 until October 7, on the way to breaking an all-time record.

In this context, the threat of losing a large part of the police force, even temporarily, has caused a deep sense of unease. Councilman Anthony Napolitano, a former police officer who supports the union’s position, noted that the force today has about 1,000 fewer officers. due to a record number of retirements and a lack of new recruits. “Criminals know these things, they know what’s going on,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times. “It’s going to be pure melee.”

Although the security forces were among the first groups to have access to vaccines, covid-19 was the leading cause of death for police officers in 2020 and so far in 2021, according to data from the Down Memorial Page, which records the number of deceased officers. One of Catanzara’s predecessors, Dean Angelo, who served as the union’s boss between 2014 and 2017, died of coronavirus last Tuesday.

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