CHICAGO — The Chicago Police Department is holding entrance exams all over the city, but some members of the police union may be there to greet new applicants with a warning about the city’s relationship with officers.
Sources say the Fraternal Order of Police is offering members $500 to protest in front of CPD entrance exam sites, at city colleges, to warn the applicants that if they join the police force, the city will not have their back.
The plans are an extension of the fight between the FOP, led by President John Catanzara, and the city over the vaccine reporting mandate. The mandate highlighted an already tense relationship between Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the police union that was brewing before the pandemic started.
The FOP says that now, 23 officers are in no-pay status for failing to report their vaccination status to the city. The police department says that number is 21.
The superintendent expects the percentage of officer compliance to grow from the high 60s to 80% by the weekend. The union is telling its officers to hold the line. It says the city needs to take the mandate into collective bargaining.
This all coming at a time when the department is losing a lot of officers. As WGN Investigates reported earlier this week, the department is down more than 1,000 officers from just two years ago, due to resignation and retirement, and recruiting efforts have failed to keep up with an ongoing exodus.
This all came before the vaccine mandate really begin to accelerate. That’s the highest annual total of officers leaving the department since at least 2018.
The FOP and the city will be back in court Friday. The FOP is asking a judge to suspend the city’s vaccination policy while the city wants to extend its restraining order on Catanzara’s use of social media to discourage officers from complying with the vaccine mandate.
The FOP is also asking officers to donate $100 to those officers that are in that no-pay status.
The morning session for the entrance exams begin at 8:30 a.m. Friday.