CHICAGO (CBS) -- Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday shrugged off a "no-confidence" vote from the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, as she accused the police union's president of stalling on contract negotiations "so that he doesn't have to face the reality" of the need for reforms in the department.
During an FOP meeting on Wednesday, rank-and-file officers issued a no-confidence vote in Lightfoot, Chicago Police Supt. David Brown, and First Deputy Supt. Eric Carter.
The vote, however, is purely symbolic, and for her own part, Lightfoot clearly was not worried about the signal it sends about her long-confrontational relationship with police union leadership, in particular FOP president John Catanzara.
"Frankly, getting a vote of no confidence from that guy is a badge of honor accepted," she said.
The mayor noted the FOP's employment contract with the city expired nearly four years ago, and she accused Catanzara of refusing to bargain with the city.
"The current administration of the FOP has decided that the best strategy is to do nothing. Why? Because they don't want to face the realities that we are in. We've got monumental reforms and accountability in the supervisors' contracts. The state law has changes to make sure that there's more reform and accountability, but what does the FOP president say? He says that his strategy is to do nothing, to drag it out, so that he doesn't have to face the reality," she said.
In the meantime, Lightfoot said rank-and-file officers are losing out on tens of thousands of dollars a year in back pay that they would be owed once a new contract is finalized, but haven't yet received.
According to Catanzra, who discussed the no confidence vote in a video posted on the union's YouTube page, reasons for the no-confidence vote include officer fatigue after CPD repeatedly canceled days off for officers and moved them to 12-hour shifts over the past year in response to or anticipation of protests, looting, and widespread civil unrest.
Officers also were upset that CPD canceled this year's annual St. Jude Memorial March for fallen officers due to the pandemic, the second year in a row the parade was canceled due to COVID-19.
"It was a slap in the face to every member, especially the Gold Star Families who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, and deserve that respect annually, period, no excuses," Catanzara said.
The no-confidence vote comes at a time when CPD is struggling to contain surging numbers of shootings, homicides, and carjackings since 2019.
Lightfoot defended her record on crime, noting 2019 ended with fewer than 500 homicides for the first time in several years.
The mayor said, when the pandemic struck in 2020, every major city in the country saw a significant increase in violent crime.
Lightfoot also claimed CPD's murder clearance rate is up to about 60% so far this year, when it was as low as the teens in the years before she took office.
She credited an increased reliance on technology like the CPD's surveillance camera network and new "strategic decision support centers" at police district and "area technology centers" at detective bureaus that help officers monitor cameras in real-time, and better integrate crime intelligence, data analytics, and technology.
"Are we happy where we are? No," Lightfoot said. "But we are determined and committed and making the adjustments that are necessary to respond to the violent crime."
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