Chicago files complaint against police union; Lightfoot denounces 'rhetoric of conspiracy theorists'

Lightfoot recently announced officers could opt out by tested twice a week instead

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Friday the city has filed a complaint to stop police from potentially striking in reaction to layoffs due to a COVID-19 vaccine mandate. 

Lightfoot and the police union have continued to bump heads as the deadline for the vaccine mandate looms: City employees must enter their vaccination status into an online portal by midnight Friday. 

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and its president, John Catanzara, have argued that the mayor cannot force employees to disclose personal medical information, FOX 32 Chicago reported. 

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara.

Lightfoot has labeled the FOP’s arguments as "rhetoric of conspiracy theorists." 

"President Catanzara has time and again deliberately misled our police officers by lying about the requirements of the policy and falsely claiming that there will be no repercussions if officers are insubordinate and refuse to follow a City and Department directive or order," Lightfoot said. "Catanzara is encouraging an unlawful strike and work stoppage which carries the potential to undermine public safety and expose our residents to irreparable harm, particularly during an ongoing pandemic." 

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Catanzara has continued to balk at Lightfoot’s warnings, claiming that officers who don’t comply will be put on a no-pay status and sent home if they defy the order. He warns that the force would be "at 50% or less for this weekend coming up." 

On "Fox & Friends," Catanzara estimated about half of his officers have been vaccinated, but he said even those who have received the vaccine agree that a mandate is wrong. 

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He told Fox News’ Ainsley Earhardt that the mandate was Lightfoot’s decision and not something the public had called for.

"Everything from this mayor is a dictatorship," he said. "She just decided she was going to do it and push it on the entire city workforce across the board."

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Lightfoot recently announced workers could temporarily opt out if they pay to get tested for COVID-19 twice a week, but Catanzaro has not changed his message in that time. 

Chicago Police Command has remained on Lightfoot’s side, saying Thursday that officers are expected to comply, show up to work and uphold their oath. 

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"Nobody is going to be turned away," said police department spokesman Tom Ahern. "Officers will be working their normal shifts this weekend [and] they wont be turned away or sent home. ... Officers will continue coming to work until they are told otherwise [and] that they are no longer on pay status."

Fox News' Amy Nelson contributed to this report.