Chicago Court Gets Its Prior Restraint On, Tells Police Union Head To STFU About City's Vaccine Mandate
from the please-don't-make-me-side-with-this-asshole dept
The Chicago PD — fronted by the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) [itself fronted by John Catanzara, “one of the most frequently-disciplined officers in the history of the Chicago PD“] — is fighting the city of Chicago’s vaccine mandate.
Yes, the thin blue line between criminals and the safety of the public has decided it will not stand between the spread of the virus and the safety of the public. Or, indeed, the safety of its officers, apparently. As COVID-19 continues to kill more officers five times faster than gunfire, Chicago PD officers have decided they’d rather die from something preventable than receive a vaccine.
Disgraced-officer-turned-police-union-president John Catanzara is the one making the most noise about the city’s mandate and is weaponizing the PD’s lack of self-care against the mayor and the city itself.
Officers in Chicago had a deadline of midnight Thursday to disclose their vaccine status to the city or be placed on unpaid leave, Catanzara said. Lightfoot said the city would take the weekend to check with officers who haven’t complied before putting them on unpaid leave, and that she didn’t think that would happen Saturday or Sunday. Lightfoot said officers should report for duty until they’re told by supervisors that they’ve been placed on leave.
“If we suspect the numbers are true and we get a large number of our members who stand firm on their beliefs that this is an overreach, and they’re not going to supply the information in the portal or submit to testing, then it’s safe to say the city of Chicago will have a police force at 50% or less for this weekend coming up,” Catanzara said. “That is not because of the FOP, that is 100% because of the mayor’s unwillingness to budge from her hard line. So whatever happens because of the manpower issue, that falls at the mayor’s doorstep.”
The city apparently takes this threat seriously. It has asked a Cook County (IL) court for an injunction to block the FOP from speaking out against the vaccine mandate, which covers all city workers. The FOP has sued right back, seeking an injunction blocking the city from enforcing the mandate. In the meantime, the PD itself has cancelled all vacation and time off requests to ensure staffing once the mandate goes into effect.
The resistance against the mandate is inexplicable, given the alarming number of law enforcement deaths the virus has caused. Law enforcement agencies demand tougher laws and increased funding every time there’s a spike in officer deaths at the hands of suspected criminals. But when it’s a preventable disease doing the killing, cops would rather go jobless than be inoculated.
This resistance is being led by a man who’s mostly known for violating rights and running his mouth. If Catanzara truly speaks for the Chicago PD rank-and-file, perhaps a 50% layoff isn’t a bad idea, especially if the city can restock with new officers who aren’t already accustomed/resigned to the PD’s long history of brutality, violence, rights violations, and nonexistent oversight. Then again, you’d think the rank-and-file would want to continue trying to get a handle on increasing gun violence in the city, given the oft-stated concerns about public safety.
But none of that makes this an acceptable interim outcome. The litigation crossfire has resulted in an additional violation of rights.
A judge late Friday issued a temporary restraining order against the Chicago police union president, prohibiting him from making public statements that encourage members not to report their COVID-19 vaccine status to the city.
Cook County Circuit Judge Cecilia Horan ruled there was potential irreparable harm if local Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara persisted in making such statements. City attorneys argued they were tantamount to him advocating “sedition” and “anarchy” because he was directing members to disobey an order from their superiors.
Catanzara’s agitating may be aggravating and annoying but it is not “sedition” or “anarchy.” His statements may run contrary to the city’s wishes but he should be free to make them. He has not actually called for strike (which is forbidden by the PD’s contract) but rather suggested officers’ should refuse requests for vaccination status and memorialize these interactions via body cam if possible. Catanzara has also speculated that more than half the police force will no longer be employed if a COVID vaccination is a job requirement. This court order appears to be prior restraint — something impermissible even with the city’s obvious interest in ensuring the safety of its employees.
That being said, maybe Chicago police officers should do the thing they’re always telling citizens to do: comply, comply, comply. If it appears rights are being violated, members of the public are expected to take their lumps first and sue about it later. That’s what the PD should do here: supply the PD with their vaccination status and get aggrieved later — that’s if they care at all about being the thin blue line standing between the innocent public and violent criminals.