Trending Topics

Chicago drops lawsuit against police union over vaccine mandate

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said her decision to drop the suit comes as more officers comply by reporting their vaccine status

John Catanzara, president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7

Local FOP President John Catanzara, at podium, appeared with Mayor Lori Lightfoot, right, in September 2021. The pair have commonly lobbed public insults at each other.

John J. Kim

By Gregory Pratt
Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — The city of Chicago has dropped its lawsuit against the Fraternal Order of Police over local union President John Catanzara’s push for officers to defy Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s vaccine mandate.

Lightfoot had asked the courts to intervene after the union chief told members to disobey her Oct. 15 deadline to report their vaccine status. The local FOP in turn filed its own lawsuit against the city, mayor and police Superintendent David Brown that seeks to force arbitration over the matter.

That case is ongoing. A Cook County judge previously ruled that the city’s vaccination policy can remain in place for now, but the city can’t enforce the Dec. 31 deadline for officers to get the shot without first arbitrating it with the police unions. In addition to the FOP, the other three Chicago police unions, for sergeants, lieutenants and captains, are co-plaintiffs.

Lightfoot said her decision comes after more officers have complied with her mandate for reporting their vaccine status.

“The past few weeks have shown what I have said from the beginning to be true: that our brave police officers are smarter than their FOP leadership, and care more about their city, their fellow Chicagoans, and upholding their sworn oath to protect and serve, than they do Catanzara’s frivolous demands to stop working,” Lightfoot said in a statement.

The FOP continues to fight the mandate. Catanzara recently retired from the Police Department while the police board was considering whether he should be fired. He has said he will run for mayor in 2023, which Lightfoot said would be “a gift” to her.

©2021 Chicago Tribune. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Officials claim the drop in violent crime is the result of a multi-agency partnership that pushed cases through court quickly following COVID-19 closures
The case evolved from a records request that was rejected on the grounds that unsubstantiated discipline records could be withheld to protect officers’ privacy
The court ruled against the state’s police benevolent association, stating the law was meant to prevent the release of addresses and content information, not names
A recent appellate case takes a look at the question: Can police require vehicle passenger identification?