Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police issued a vote of no-confidence in Mayor Lori Lightfoot Wednesday, citing poor work conditions and the cancellation of a march for fallen officers due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The vote by the police union, as well as police Superintendent David Brown and First Deputy Eric Carter, was unanimous among as many as 200 active and retired rank-and-file officers, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Reasons cited for the move reportedly include officer burnout and the department’s decision to cancel off days for cops on several occasions — as well as a move from 8 ½-hour shifts to 12-hour work periods in preparation for possible unrest in the city.
The symbolic action also followed the second consecutive year that the Chicago Police Department canceled its annual St. Jude Memorial March for the city’s fallen cops while citing the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The basis for this no-confidence vote is pretty simple, it’s two-fold,” FOP President John Catanzara said in a video statement. “It’s a lack of respect for the Gold Star families and the cancellation of the St. Jude parade.”
Catanzara said the union, which represents about 8,000 of the city’s 12,405 sworn officers, gave the department “leeway” with last year’s cancellation, but accused CPD of using the coronavirus as an “excuse” to scuttle the affair set for May 3.
“It was a slap in the face to every department member, especially the Gold Star families who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and deserve that respect annually,” he said. “Period. No excuses.”
The union will consider holding the march “on our own” next year and tried to get the department to reconsider, but that did not happen, Catanzara said.
Lightfoot, for her part, blamed the union for dragging out talks on a new deal for thousands of rank-and-file cops who have worked without a police contract for more than three years, saying they’re losing “literally tens of thousands of dollars” in back pay annually, the Tribune reported.
“So frankly, getting a vote of no-confidence from that guy is a badge of honor,” Lightfoot said, referring to Catanzara.
Lightfoot, who took heat earlier this week for giving interviews only to journalists of color to mark her two years in office, also accused Catanzara of dragging out the process over looming police reform since some measures would be incorporated into any new contract, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
“We are on the cusp of four years since the FOP contract expired,” Lightfoot said at an unrelated news conference Thursday. “They’re refusing to come to the table and bargain.”
The union issued a no-confidence vote in 2019 for then-police Superintendent Eddie Johnson after he was criticized for not attending a speech by President Trump, the Tribune reported.
While a no-confidence vote by FOP officials or rank-and-file cops is not unprecedented, it’s unclear if a sitting mayor had ever been previously included in the move, the Tribune reported.