Chicago, IL – The Chicago Police Department summoned the president of the officers’ union to headquarters on Wednesday and served him with administrative misconduct charges.
In January, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown filed charges against Chicago Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) President John Catanzara with the Chicago Police Board and recommended that the union boss be fired, WGN reported.
Catanzara has been accused of filing a false police report against former Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson after the top cop participated in an unpermitted, anti-police protest on the Dan Ryan Expressway in July of 2018.
He said Superintendent Johnson had broken the law when he allowed the march to shut down the highway, WGN reported.
Catanzara called the charges hypocritical because the new police superintendent has been a big advocate of encouraging officers to report misconduct by other officers.
He has threatened to subpoena every official who allowed the march to shut down the Dan Ryan Expressway to testify at his police board hearing, according to WGN.
The union president is already under the Chicago Police Board’s microscope for offensive social media posts he made between November of 2016 and February of 2018, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Chicago Police Board records provided some examples of the social media posts in question.
“Wtf its [sic] seriously time to kill these mother–kers,” Catanzara wrote on one occasion.
He told the Chicago Sun-Times on Dec. 17, 2020 that he was referring to people who have murdered police officers in that comment.
Catanzara called a police official “spineless” in another post and suggested someone perform a sex act on him in another, according to the police board’s records.
He also allegedly wrote “savages they all deserve a bullet” which the complaint said was biased against Muslims but didn’t provide further context, WGN reported.
Police board records also showed that Catanzara had posted a picture of himself in his Chicago Police Department uniform making a political statement, which is a direct violation of the department’s policy.
There was no agreement from authorities on how to discipline the union president for his controversial posts, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Chicago’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) Chief Administrator Sydney Roberts recommended that Catanzara be fired from the police force.
Superintendent Brown initially said he thought the union president’s actions merited a one-year suspension from the police department, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
But on Feb. 9, he changed his tune and informed Catanzara that he was effectively suspended without pay for the next 30 days while the department waited on the ruling from the Chicago Police Board on his termination.
“It’ll probably give me more support with members for being attacked,” Catanzara told WGN. “It’ll piss [police] off more.”
The police union has been fighting with the city over the officers’ contract since 2017 and officers have been working under an expired contract for four years.
Catanzara told WGN in December of 2020 that he would resign from the Chicago Police Department if the city would agree to pay the officers the retroactive pay they deserved.
“There’s the gauntlet. Call my bluff. I dare you,” the union boss said.
The next meeting of the Chicago Police Board is March 18 and the members are expected to determine Catanzara’s fate at that time, WGN reported.
But if the board fires the union president from the police department, he could still run the FOP.
A complaint about unfair labor practices has also been filed that accused the city of targeting Catanzara because of his work for the FOP.