Chicago, IL – Multiple sheriffs in jurisdictions near Chicago said they will not respond to fill the potential gap in police manpower created by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain and DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick said they have historically had no problem sending deputies to help the Chicago Police Department (CPD) in cases where officers were in emergency distress or under duress, but that the situation Lightfoot has created does not fit those parameters, the Daily Herald reported.
“ILEAS (the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System) typically responds to emergency situations where there is no opportunity for planning,” Sheriff Hain told the paper on Tuesday. “This situation to me is much different.”
“This is all begotten by a lack of planning and support of the Chicago Police Department,” Sheriff Hain added. “So now, they are bleeding that out to us.”
“It’s like a preplanned police shortage,” Sheriff Mendrick agreed. “The lack of logic is the thing that astounds me.”
He told the Daily Herald the situation was similar to the Chicago Bears football team suspending all of its players, then turning to the Green Bay Packers and telling them they need to go out and play for them.
Furthermore, Sheriff Mendrick and Sheriff Hain do not require their deputies to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of their employment, the Daily Herald reported.
Lightfoot claims only vaccinated CPD officers are acceptable, so sending potentially unvaccinated deputies in to fill the void created over the loss of unvaccinated CPD officers makes no sense, Sheriff Mendrick noted.
“Only one of these two things can be true,” he told the Daily Herald.
The City of Chicago has not requested assistance, relying on ILEAS to handle that task instead, the Daily Herald reported.
“When Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System activates us, it’s for an explosion, a plane crash, a tornado, civil unrest…not due to lack of planning and support of law enforcement by the city,” Sheriff Hain told Shaw Media.
The ILEAS recently issued an email to at least a dozen law enforcement officials asking agencies to find out if members of their specialized units would be willing to head to Chicago if needed and how quickly they would be able to respond, WGN reported.
“To be clear, if members of the ILEAS Special Teams programs are requested, it would be for emergency situations, NOT for routine police assistance and the answering of calls for service within the city limits,” the email read.
The city expects the Cook County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) and the Illinois State Police (ISP) to handle the city’s “patrol needs,” according to ILEAS.
Sheriff Hain issued a statement on Monday explaining his stance on the matter.
“I believe the polarization between the community and police is only reinforced by current Chicago politics,” the sheriff wrote. “I will not send my personnel to Chicago, unless an officer is under direct duress, because I cannot support this slanted agenda. I also will not allow my deputies to be subjected to use force in the city and be under the prosecutorial jurisdiction of the Cook County State’s Attorney.”
“The Chicago Police Department has a dedicated force of professional humans who deserve all of the support the nation can offer,” Sheriff Hain continued. “The solution is simple; allow Chicago Police to be the police, support their human resources, and operate treatment and vocational support programs led by people in uniform. This is how Chicago can halt crime and build bridges with the community like we’ve done here in Kane.”
Likewise, Kendall County Sheriff Dwight Baird said he will not send any of his deputies to Chicago because he is particularly concerned about them being investigated by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx if anything should occur, Swam Media reported.
“It sounds like Mayor Lightfoot is creating her own emergency with the decisions she’s making with her police force and I don’t feel that ILEAS assistance in this situation would be warranted,” Sheriff Baird told the news outlet. “I would help an officer out if they were distressed. But she’s bringing this upon herself.”
Sheriff Hain said law enforcement officers have “been used as a scapegoat for poor community relations in the minority community for generations,” Shaw Media reported.
“It’s time for federal, state and local government to take responsibility for social services and programming for equal opportunities and stop blaming law enforcement for why people are engaging in criminal activity,” he added.
Lightfoot seemed unphased by the potential loss of thousands of CPD officers, and claimed the city has had “contingency plans in place for some time,” WGN reported.
“I don’t engage in a lot of hypotheticals,” the mayor said. “Obviously, we have contingency plans in place for some time. What we’re seeing is the number of folks who are, after being given the opportunities and direct order, saying no is very small.”
“I’m not seeing that there’s is going to be any disruption in our ability to keep our neighborhoods safe,” Lightfoot told WGN. “We have to keep plugging away at this that will play itself out over the next couple days.”
Lightfoot gave the Chicago city employees until midnight on Oct. 14 to disclose their vaccine status or face unpaid suspension, Chicago Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) President John Catanzara told the Associated Press.
In order to avoid being placed on unpaid leave, CPD officers were required to either provide proof of vaccination or consent to being tested for the virus twice weekly, WFLD reported.
The twice-weekly testing option is available to workers only until the end of the year, when vaccination will be the only option without an approved religious or medical exemption, according to FOX News.
According to a Chicago vaccine portal report, less than 65 percent of the Chicago Police Department (CPD)’s 12,770 sworn and civilian personnel have entered their vaccination status into the city’s reporting system.
Of those who reported their status, nearly 54 percent said they were fully vaccinated, while over 10 percent reported they were not.
The remaining 35 percent didn’t respond at all.
A total of 40 Chicago police officers were stripped of their law enforcement powers on Monday due to their refusal to disclose their vaccine status.
All but 19 of those officers ultimately opted to fall in line with the mayor’s order by the end of the day and had their police powers immediately restored, WGN reported.
The officers who refused to comply were required to hand over their police identification, badges, and shields and were placed on unpaid leave.
Complaints were also lodged against each non-compliant officer, WGN reported.
Additional officers are expected to be placed on unpaid leave in the near future.
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said he has offered to send the Illinois National Guard to Chicago to help fill the gap if massive numbers of CPD officers are placed on unpaid leave, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“We’ve offered every resource, every public safety resource that’s available to the state to offer to municipalities to the city of Chicago, so if the city calls us, we’ll respond,” Pritzker said.
Lightfoot said she believes in “planning and being ready,” but that she doesn’t want to ask the governor to declare a state of emergency or send in additional resources just yet, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“I don’t want to deal in hypothetical scenarios that have not presented themselves,” the mayor said.