John Catanzara

President of Chicago Police Union Could be Fired Over Social Media Posts

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The controversial president of Chicago's police union could be fired from the police department over comments he made on social media in previous years, according to reports.

The Chicago Tribune reports John Catanzara's possible dismissal was disclosed during a monthly meeting for a police disciplinary panel Thursday night in the city and the case could head to the full Chicago Police Board for a decision in the coming months.

At the center of the case are statements made by Catanzara on Facebook in 2016 and 2017. In one comment, Catanzara allegedly wrote about Muslims, saying "Savages they all deserve a bullet."

Catanzara became FOP president earlier this year.

According to the Tribune, the Chicago Office of Police Accountability's chief administrator had recommended Catanzara be fired earlier this year, 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.

In a message to NBC 5, Catanzara said "the timing is extremely suspect as is the random draw of the board member who announced her finding."

"This has been sitting at COPA for over a year and a half," he said.

Elected to lead the union in May, 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.

Catanzara leads the union amid contract negotiations and as CPD continues to implement court-supervised reforms based on a 2016 U.S. Department of Justice report found a history of civil rights violations within the department it investigated in the wake of the 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald.

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