After a police disciplinary board hearing that was set to decide his fate as a member of the CPD, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge Leader John Catanzara says that he plans to retire from the department, and will run for mayor of the city of Chicago.
“I’m officially running for mayor. Lightfoot has got to go. It’s gotta happen," he said.
Catanzara made the bombshell announcements following Monday’s hearing, which lasted for several hours.
“It was pretty evident very early on that this cake was already baked,” he said. “I am going to be at HR first thing in the morning, and I am going to be retiring. I will no longer be a Chicago police officer.”
Catanzara said that after his retirement he will remain president of FOP Lodge 7 in Chicago, which he will be allowed to do under FOP bylaws, for the remainder of his term.
He says he then plans to run for mayor of Chicago in 2023, presumably against incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
“There was never a possibility under God’s green Earth that I was ever going to give this mayor the ability to utter the words ‘I fired him,’” he said.
Catanzara made the announcement after a hearing over comments he made on social media. The comments, made between 2016 and 2018, led to a suspension for Catanzara from the department. He was also accused of improperly filing police reports against his supervisors.
In all, Catanzara stood accused of violating 11 department rules, including using his public Facebook page to promote partisan political activity and insubordination.
He pleaded “not liable” to all 11 counts prior to Monday’s hearing.
During opening statements, attorneys representing Chicago Police Supt. David Brown criticized Catanzara's actions.
"(He) violated the rules of police conduct in an effort to bring attention to himself," attorneys said.
Defense attorneys for Catanzara pushed back on the accusations, saying that he was a "whistleblower" who challenged the treatment of low-ranking officers in the department.
According to the Chicago Police Board, the case against Catanzara will end when he officially submits his retirement paperwork.
"Under the municipal code, the police board no longer has jurisdiction to take disciplinary action," the board said in a statement.
Catanzara, a 25-year veteran of the force, has led the FOP lodge in Chicago since 2020, and has publicly feuded with Lightfoot on a wide variety of fronts, most notably over the city’s vaccination requirements for employees.
Those mandates, which are still being worked out in court and in mediation, would require employees to submit their vaccination status to an online portal, which Catanzara had encouraged members of CPD not to do.
While Catanzara said that the decision to leave the department was "bittersweet," he described the separation as inevitable.
"I was never going to be a police officer again. The intentions (of the board and the mayor) were clear," he said.