CHICAGO — The head of the Chicago police union is telling his officers the city doesn’t care about them.
“They don’t give a damn when you die,” Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 president John Catanzara told members during a Facebook Live discussion Wednesday night.
Catanzara backed up that fiery claim by pointing to the November death of Officer Titus Moore. As WGN Investigates previously reported, the department was hesitant to classify Moore’s death as “in the line of duty” and give him a funeral with full police honors.
Moore was found dead inside his home. His family said the medical examiner confirmed to them he had tested positive for COVID-19 but the department insisted on waiting until a full toxicology report was complete.
After WGN Investigates got involved, nearly two weeks after Moore’s death, the department contacted the medical examiner and confirmed the COVID-19 test result and granted Moore a funeral with full honors. An autopsy completed the day of the funeral listed Covid as the primary cause of death.
“Please consider this when you’re out running and gunning, chasing,” Catanzara said on the Facebook Live. “I get it’s hard to turn that off. You see something. You think you want to jump in and get it. Well, just think about this department. They don’t give a damn about you.”
Police leaders attended Moore’s funeral and called his death “a loss for the entire city.” But Catanzara said the delay is evidence the City doesn’t support cops who have continued to work through-out the COVID-19 pandemic, which has now caused the death of four Chicago police officers.
“They don’t give a damn about you and your health when it comes to Covid and training,” Catanzara said. “They don’t give a damn when you die. They can say they do. But I’m a ‘rubber meets the road’ guy and they’ve yet to prove it on a major level. They’re all afraid of the mayor.”
Mayor Lightfoot said Thursday afternoon Catanzara’s comments couldn’t be further from the truth.
“We have gone to extraordinary efforts to keep all first responders safe,” the mayor said pointing to millions of dollars spent on personal protective equipment plus a campaign to encourage officers to wear masks.
Lightfoot said comments Catanzara made on social media early in the pandemic show he was a ‘Covid denier.’ “When did they finally get religion?” Lightfoot rhetorically asked, “the day before they filed three meritless attacks on the city regarding COVID-19 protections.”
The police union and Mayor Lightfoot’s administration are in heated contract negotiations. The current contract expired three-and-a-half years ago.
WGN Investigates reported in July a series of text messages between Lightfoot and the FOP president that revealed the contentious nature of their relationship.
When Catanzara texted the mayor claiming she wasn’t doing enough to stand-up for officers who were being pelted with objects by protesters, he also said “99.9% of the department has zero respect for you, what you say, what you stand for and even less confidence you give a rat’s a** for their well-being.”
Lightfoot responded by texting: “Right back at you, clown. So sad you are so desperate for relevance and publicity that you are comfortable with lying. You will be exposed as the total fraud that you clearly are.”