John Catanzara

Chicago Police Union President John Catanzara Faces Hearing, Possible Firing

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The controversial president of Chicago's police union could be fired from the department over comments he made on social media in previous years as he becomes the subject of a police board hearing this week.

Catanzara's case, which began years earlier, heads to the Chicago Police Board for a decision that could determine his future as a police officer. A hearing is scheduled to begin Monday.

Much of what Catanzara is accused of stems from inflammatory statements and comments made on social media dating back to 2016, before he was president of the union.

In a document being reviewed by the police board, Catanzara is accused of using offensive language, advocating the killing of people, making statements that were biased against Muslims and making disrespectful statements about his department’s management.

In one comment, Catanzara allegedly wrote about Muslims, saying "Savages they all deserve a bullet."

In total, Catanzara is accused of violating 11 CPD rules, according to the document.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Office of Police Accountability's chief administrator had recommended Catanzara be fired, but Chicago Police Supt. David Brown instead called for a one-year suspension.

After being randomly chosen to review the case, Police Board member Andrea Zopp reportedly said Brown "did not meet the burden of overcoming the chief administrator's recommendation for discipline" and called for a hearing before the full board.

Brown then recommended Catanzara's firing earlier this year.

On Friday, Catanzara spoke to union membership on YouTube about his future as an officer, saying "time will tell."

"The mayor has decided that she wanted a circus," he said. "She’s made it very clear that I’m not going to win this case, that I will never be in a police uniform again. I guess we’re going to see if the members of the police board will do the right thing, time will tell."

Catanzara will likely testify in this hearing. Though the hearing will begin this week, a decision isn't expected until early next year.

Elected to lead the union in May 2020, Catanzara has a long history of controversy and overt political statements. He made headlines in 2017 when he posted a photo to social media in support of President Donald Trump's criticisms of professional football players, including Colin Kaepernick, who knelt during the National Anthem.

Cantanzara was suspended for the photo, as CPD's code of conduct does not allow officers to participate "in any partisan political campaign or activity."

A 25-year veteran of the force, Catanzara has had dozens of complaints filed against him in his career. He has also been suspended multiple times and two former Chicago police superintendents have independently tried to fire him for separate violations. Both times he was ultimately restored to his position by the Chicago Police Board.

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