Several suburban Chicago sheriffs have said that they will not be sending their deputies to the city to help with staffing shortages resulting from vaccine mandates instituted by Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Speaking to the Chicago Tribune, Kane County sheriff Ron Hain, a democrat, said that he didn’t “feel like the onus is on us to go in there in an emergency situation that was created by poor government and a lack of support the officers receive.” He said that he is not willing to send his officers to Chicago unless there is an officer under direct duress because he does not support what he termed a “slanted agenda.” He also said that he does not want his deputies to be under the prosecutorial jurisdiction of the State’s Attorney of Cook County.
This sentiment was echoed by Kendall County Sheriff Dwight Baird, a republican, who said that he wouldn’t be putting his officers at risk to respond to Lightfoot’s “self-induced emergency.”
James Mendrick, the DuPage County Sheriff, told the paper that while he would not stop his deputies from assisting in an emergency, he does not understand why they would want to replace unvaccinated Chicago officers with officers from other jurisdictions who may also be unvaccinated.
“It doesn’t make sense to say ‘I only want my residents touching vaccinated people, but I’m going to send all these potentially unvaccinated people from other municipalities to replace them,’” he said.
The comments came in response to a notice that was sent through the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System stating that the Chicago police may need assistance if an emergency situation arises due to opposition to the vaccine mandates. The city required all of its employees to submit their proof of vaccination by October 15 or agree to undergo regular testing. The president of the Fraternal Order of Police, John Catanzara has been vocal in discouraging officers from complying and emphasizing that it is a violation of their rights.
The National Fraternal Order of Police issued a statement in response to the call for help. They said: “The devolving situation in Chicago and the very real threat to public safety in the city has been entirely manufactured and unnecessarily escalated by Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Now she is searching for a way out of this mess and insists that ‘contingency plans’ are in place.”
The statement added that the system exists for emergencies and is not intended for cases where a mayor fires a significant portion of their own police force. The union also said that they do not support forcing their members to submit to a medical procedure against their will without providing them with some form of due process.
The FOP also pointed out that the call for assistance was not restricted solely to officers who have gotten the vaccine, which seems to defeat the purpose of firing the city’s unvaccinated officers in the first place. The statement suggests it’s a political move and says that the mayor should not be using the safety of Chicagoans as a pawn in a political game: “Clearly, her position has nothing to do with the public’s safety or health policy and everything to do with ‘winning’ the political game against the union.”
The union issued a no-confidence vote in Lightfoot in May.
So far, just 67 percent of the city’s police force has submitted their vaccination status; 21 officers have been placed on “no pay” status for refusing to comply.
The move comes at a time when Chicago continues to see high levels of crime, with 39 shootings recorded last weekend alone and 1400 carjackings so far this year. The city can’t really afford to lose any more officers, and it makes little sense to claim they can’t work because they are unvaccinated while calling for backup from other law enforcement officers who may not be vaccinated, either.
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