Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has been a fan of using her pandemic-discovered powers to dictate the lives of city residents and employees — though she has been happy to repeatedly violate her own COVID-19 mandates.
One her most infamous moves to date has been to require all Chicago cops to get vaccinated or hit the bricks.
The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police called on its members to not comply with Lightfoot's vaccine mandate. Union President John Catanzara said city officials refused to "bargain in good faith over this subject" and warned that the city could see its police force cut by 50% or more.
"It is the city's clear attempt to force officers with a 'chicken little, the sky is falling,' into compliance – do not fall for it," Catanzara told his members. "Hold the line."
Lightfoot has remained undeterred and has vowed to fire cops who refuse to get the jab. She has also accused the FOP of inducing an "insurrection."
In response to the predicted shortage of police in the Windy City, Illinois sheriffs in jurisdictions near and around Chicago have said they will not respond to fill the coming manpower gap, the Police Tribune reported.
What are the sheriffs saying?
The state has a statewide mutual aid system called the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System, the Daily Herald said. The ILEAS is used to call in assistance during emergency situations.
Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain, DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick, Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg, and Kendall County Sheriff Dwight Baird have all said they will not be sending their own officers to Chicago simply to help with Lightfoot's self-imposed police shortage.
"ILEAS typically responds to emergency situations where there is no opportunity for planning," Hain said Tuesday, according to the Daily Herald. "This situation to me is much different."
"It's like a preplanned police shortage," Mendrick said. "The lack of logic is the thing that astounds me."
"If there is a qualifying emergency situation and emergency assistance is requested, we will deploy personnel to assist, so long as we are able to maintain adequate staffing levels to keep the Lake County community safe," Idleburg told the paper.
Not only are the sheriffs refusing to help the city avoid a problem of its own making, some are also questioning the logic of bringing in unvaccinated sheriff's deputies to replace unvaccinated Chicago officers.
Mendrick and Hain both pointed out they do not require their deputies to get vaccinated as a condition of employment, the Police Tribune noted, so it would make no sense to send "potentially unvaccinated deputies in to fill the void created over the loss of unvaccinated CPD officers."
About more than vaccines
And the sheriffs are worried about more than just the vaccine situation — there's also the threat that their deputies could wind up being investigated at the whim of Chicago authorities, the Kane County Chronicle reported.
"I believe the polarization between the community and police is only reinforced by current Chicago politics," Hain said in a Facebook post cited by the Chronicle. "I will not send my personnel to Chicago, unless an officer is under direct duress, because I cannot support this slanted agenda. I also will not allow my deputies to be subjected to use force in the city and be under the prosecutorial jurisdiction of the Cook County State's Attorney."
Baird told the Chronicle he would not send any deputies to Chicago to cover policing gaps because, were there an incident, he would be worried that his deputies could wind up being invested by Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx.
"It sounds like Mayor Lightfoot is creating her own emergency with the decisions she's making with her police force and I don't feel that ILEAS assistance in this situation would be warranted," Baird said. "I would help an officer out if they were distressed. But she's bringing this upon herself."