The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police voted Wednesday against Mayor Lori Lightfoot, citing poor working conditions and the cancellation of a march honoring fallen officers due to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the vote by the police union, as well as police Superintendent David Brown and First Deputy Eric Carter, was unanimous among up to 200 active and retired rank-and-file officers.
Officer burnout and the department's decision to cancel cops' off days on several occasions were cited as reasons for the move, as was a shift from 8 12-hour shifts to 12-hour work periods in preparation for possible unrest in the city.
The symbolic action comes on the heels of the Chicago Police Department canceling its annual St. Jude Memorial March for the city's fallen officers for the second consecutive year, citing the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The grounds for this vote of no confidence are fairly straightforward; they are twofold,” FOP President John Catanzara said in a video statement. “It's a lack of regard for Gold Star families, as well as the cancellation of the St. Jude parade.”
Catanzara stated that the union, which represents approximately 8,000 of the city's 12,405 sworn officers, granted the department "leeway" with last year's cancellation, but accused CPD of using the coronavirus as a "excuse" to scuttle the May 3 event.
“It was a slap in the face to every department member, particularly the Gold Star families who have made the ultimate sacrifice and deserve to be treated with respect on an annual basis,” he said. "Precisely. There are no excuses.” The union will consider holding the march "on our own" next year and attempted to convince the department to reconsider, Catanzara said.
For her part, Lightfoot blamed the union for prolonging negotiations on a new deal for thousands of rank-and-file cops who have been working without a police contract for more than three years, claiming they are losing “literally tens of thousands of dollars” in back pay annually, the Tribune reported.
“So, frankly, receiving a vote of no confidence from that guy is a badge of honor,” Lightfoot said of Catanzara.
Lightfoot, who came under fire earlier this week for giving interviews only to journalists of color to commemorate her two years in office, also accused Catanzara of dragging out the process over looming police reform, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
“We are approaching the four-year anniversary of the FOP contract expiring,” Lightfoot said Thursday during an unrelated news conference. “They are refusing to negotiate.”
The union voted no confidence in then-police Superintendent Eddie Johnson in 2019 after he was chastised for missing a speech by President Trump, according to the Tribune.
While a vote of no confidence by FOP officials or rank-and-file cops is not unprecedented, the Tribune reported that the move has never included a sitting mayor.