Pritzker offers National Guard if Chicago cops’ COVID-19 vax statuses thin ranks
With Chicago Police officers refusing to report their COVID-19 vaccination statuses, city streets soon could go unprotected. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is offering to call out the National Guard to keep order.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is preparing for a possible Chicago Police Department shortage as the Oct. 15 deadline hits for city employees to report their COVID-19 vaccination status or be sent home without pay. He offered to call out the Illinois National Guard to patrol the city.
Police union leaders urged officers not to report their vaccination status, in defiance of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s mandate. Only 25% of Chicago police officers received COVID-19 vaccinations, according to the most recent numbers available.
Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara called the mandate an “illegal order.” He’s expecting a near majority of police officers to be sent home for not complying.
“I guarantee you at least half the department staying home come Saturday morning,” Catanzara said.
Should that happen, Pritzker will deploy the National Guard if the city asks for assistance.
“I think you understand by now that you can’t just march National Guard into a city without coordinating, and you can’t just march state police into a city without coordinating with the Chicago Police Department. So at every turn, we have continuing conversations with them, but we need the leadership of the city to ask us,” Pritzker said.
Lightfoot said she doesn’t expect a police shortage, but has a contingency plan if there is one. She was sticking to her Oct. 15 deadline for city workers to report their vaccination status despite union pressure.
Lightfoot did back off the Oct. 15 vaccination deadline, allowing city workers to get tested twice a week, on their own time and at their own expense, through the end of the year. After that, they must be vaccinated unless there is a religious or health reason they cannot.