Chicago, IL – The controversial president of the Chicago police union announced during a disciplinary hearing on Monday that he would submit his retirement papers “first thing in the morning” on Tuesday and run for mayor of Chicago.
“I’m running against the mayor to change this damn city and the direction it’s on,” Chicago Police Officer John Catanzara proclaimed, according to the Chicago Sun Times. “Because she is literally not steering it into an iceberg, she is literally telling them full steam ahead. So something’s gotta change and apparently nobody else seems too concerned about it, so we’ll see where we go from here.”
Officer Catanzara joined the Chicago Police Department (CPD) in 1995 and has served as the president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) since May of 2020, the same month George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis sparked violent riots in Chicago.
Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown brought up Officer Catanzara on administrative misconduct charges in February and recommended that he be fired.
Officer Catanzara was suspended without pay, WGN reported.
He 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.
Officer Catanzara called the charges hypocritical because the new police superintendent has been a big advocate of encouraging officers to report misconduct by other officers.
The union president was 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.
Chicago’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) Chief Administrator Sydney Roberts recommended that Catanzara be fired from the police force.
Officer Catanzara maintained his leadership role at the FOP during his suspension and thus far has successfully led the recent charge against the vaccine mandate.
He has repeatedly infuriated Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the two have publicly sparred.
FOP attorney Tim Grace said the city’s prosecution of Officer Catanzara’s case has been “very much a ‘let’s throw everything at the wall and see what sticks’ approach.”
Grace characterized Officer Catanzara as a “classic whistleblower” and said the union boss was trying to hold police brass accountable, WGN reported.
“The evidence will show that he’s been fighting against hypocrisy and shortcomings in the Chicago Police Department for his 27-year career as a police officer,” the attorney added.
The evidentiary hearing that was Officer Catanzara’s opportunity to refute and disprove the charges against him began on Nov. 15, WGN reported.
“This case is about an officer, John Catanzara, who violated the rules of conduct in efforts to bring attention to himself and, in the process, thumb his nose at superior officers and department directives along the way,” Jim Lydon, the attorney representing Superintendent Brown, said during his opening.
The hearing was supposed to last through Wednesday and attorneys for Officer Catanzara said had said he planned to deliver his own closing argument, WGN reported.
Under questioning from Lydon, the union boss admitted he had filed the complaint against former Superintendent Johnson and then another against his former commander after that supervisor put the kibosh on his initial complaint.
After the city attorney finished questioning Officer Catanzara, the FOP president informed the Chicago Police Board that he would be retiring on Nov. 16, WGN reported.
“It was pretty evident very early on that this cake was already baked,” he told them.
FOP bylaws do not preclude Officer Catanzara from remaining president of the police union after he has retired, WGN reported.
At the end of the hearing, Officer Catanzara made a closing statement and announced he was leaving the department, the Chicago Sun Times reported.
“This has been a farce from the get-go,” he told the board.
After the retirement announcement, the hearing was suspended and both sides met with Lauren Freeman, the hearing officer overseeing the case, the Chicago Sun Times reported.
Freeman later announced that a conference call would be held on Tuesday morning to determine what happens next.
She said that if Officer Catanzara had submitted his retirement paperwork by then, the case would be closed, the Chicago Sun Times reported.
Officer Catanzara told reporters after the hearing that he was serious about retiring and that he was going to run for mayor of Chicago.