Lightfoot sounds off on reports of 'blue flu' within CPD: "Dereliction of duty"

Mayor Lori Lightfoot did not mince her words Tuesday when responding to rumors that a case of "blue flu" was going around the Chicago Police Department.

Members were reportedly asked to stay home and not volunteer on days off to send a message to the mayor.

The president of the police union says they did not send out the text message, but he does not necessarily disagree with it either.

FOX 32’s Tia Ewing spoke with five members of CPD and none of them say they got the text. The head of the police union, John Catanzara, says he did not send a text, but has a message for officers planning to work the weekend of july 4.

“Is the blue flu real? Not that I am aware of. Though it’s attributed back to the FOP, but it didn’t originate here,” Catanzara said.

The Fraternal Order of Police president says he never told officers during the deadliest weekend in 2020 to call in sick.

“I get why people are talking about it and it started in Atlanta,” he said, referring to the charges filed against two officers in the death of Rayshard Brooks.

The sick calls are seen by officers as a sign of solidarity.

At a press conference Monday, Mayor Lightfoot said that in Chicago, the sick calls did not pour in.

“We haven’t seen that, so I appreciate that the members ignored the stupid advice. Our officers are out there working hard and they are tired,” Lightfoot said.

Longtime champion for the Black and Brown communities, Father Michael Pfleger of Saint Sabina Church, tweeted about the possibility of blue flu, saying its “Unacceptable and irresponsible. Yes the job is stressful, so is growing up Black in America. Unfortunately the blue flu is being affirmed by the toxic president of the FOP.”

“Maybe the president of FOP should sit down and talk to some Black kids in the city and find out what its really like to grow up with challenges,” Pfleger said.

The FOP president says the union was not behind any text message, but did not dismiss the idea, delivering a message to officers on patrol.

“It's not a work stoppage, but I am going to ask every single member with the holiday coming up, don't put yourself in jeopardy and think about what you are doing and why you are doing it,” Catanzara said.

FOX 32 reached out to CPD to find out how many officers called in sick this past weekend. We were told to put in a Freedom of Information Act request to get the numbers.