Chicago Police Dept. strips FOP president John Catanzara of pay, pushes forward with firing

Chicago News

CHICAGO — Chicago Fraternal Order of Police president John Catanzara was summoned to police headquarters Tuesday and formally served with administrative misconduct charges. 

The documents have the effect of notifying Catanzara he won’t be paid for at least the next 30 days while he awaits a decision by the Chicago Police Board.

It’s the latest salvo in an ongoing bitter battle between Catanzara, City Hall and police brass.  

“It’ll probably give me more support with members for being attacked,” Catanzara told WGN Investigates. “It’ll piss (police) off more.”

In January, CPD Supt. David Brown filed charges with the police board accusing Catanzara of multiple rules violations and recommending Catanzara be discharged from the department. 

The violations, originally put forth by former interim superintendent Charlie Beck, allege Catanzara filed a false police report against former police Supt. Eddie Johnson for his participation in an anti-violence march that took place on the Dan Ryan expressway in July of 2018. 

Catanzara claimed Johnson broke the law by allowing people to wrongfully march on the highway.    

Catanzara called the move to fire him hypocritical at a time when Supt. Brown is trumpeting police reforms which encourage officers to report suspected misconduct by members of their own department.

He vows a vigorous defense suggesting he could subpoena everyone involved in allowing the 2018 anti-violence march to testify under oath at his police board hearing.  

Marchers did not have a permit or permission to shut down the highway; but Illinois State Police and then-mayor Rahm Emanuel looked the other way. 

An unfair labor practices complaint has also been filed accusing the City of Chicago of targeting Catanzara because of his work leading the police union. 

The Police Board is also considering complaints involving several social media posts Catanzara made dating back to 2016. 

They include a post in which he suggested killing people. 

In another post about Muslims, the Police Board said Catanzara wrote “savages, they all deserve a bullet.” Catanzara defended the comments by saying he was referring to cop killers and people who mutilate women in the name of Islam.   

In a different post, he uploaded a picture of himself in a police uniform making a political statement, which is against department policy.

Chicago police officers have been working under an expired contract since 2017. 

In December, Catanzara told WGN he would resign from the department if the city agreed to give officers retroactive pay. 

“There’s the gauntlet.  Call my bluff.  I dare you,” Catanzara told WGN in December.

A final determination on Catanzara’ fate as a police officer could come as soon as its next meeting March 18.  

However, even if the police board decides to terminate Catanzara from the department, it’s widely believed he could continue to lead the union as a retired officer. 

The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 reimburses the police department for Catanzara’s salary since he works full-time with the union, Catanzara said.

There’s no love lost between Catanzara and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot whose disagreements frequently spill into the public spotlight. 

In July, WGN Investigates reported on a series of heated text messages between the two in which the mayor repeatedly called Catanzara a “clown” and he told her officers have “zero respect for you.” 

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