CHICAGO - The firebrand president of the Chicago police union called for a thousand officers to show up at Chicago Police Department headquarters Tuesday morning, but only a few dozen actually appeared and some were not cops.
Catanzara claims Mayor Lori Lightfoot's administration seeks to divide the union by punishing a few dozen officers at a time, until they agree to report whether they've been vaccinated or not.
"We are calling for the city to treat all our members exactly the same. It is not fair we have 23 members suspended for nine days now. This is their ninth day," Catanzara said. "That's not fair, because the person at the end of the process will be suspended for one day, while someone else might be suspended 70 days. That's not the way it's supposed to work."
Officials say 71% of all officers have complied with Lightfoot's requirement they reveal whether or not they've been vaccinated.
Suspending the approximately 3,000 officers in violation of that order would dramatically worsen what many Chicagoans already consider a public safety crisis on the city's streets.
That's exactly the scenario Catanzara foresees, believing it would force the mayor to abandon her vaccine status reporting requirement.
He claims current officers can't be replaced.
"Nobody wants this job," Catanzara said. "I heard they couldn't even get 500 coppers, or 500 people, to take that police test over the weekend. In 11 different locations, with two different times each day on Friday and Saturday. And you couldn't even get 500 people to take this job. And you're threatening to throw out 3,000? It just makes no sense in a city that again, just topped the 700 murder mark again."
Catanzara said the union would agree to have each of its members tested before going out each day onto the street or to their desk job.
He said even a vaccinated officer could contract a breakthrough infection and possibly become contagious.