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Ahead of Police Board hearing, CPD strips FOP president of pay

First-term union president John Catanzara will face a hearing later this month over obscene and inflammatory posts he made to social media before his election. Additionally, Catanzara faces charges related to a criminal complaint he filed against former Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson and Cmdr. Ronald Pontecore Jr.

Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara speak at a pro-police rally in Grant Park last year.
FOP President John Catanzara speaking in Grant Park in July 2020.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

John Catanzara, the embattled Chicago police union president, was served with administrative charges Tuesday, setting the stage for his evidentiary hearing later this month that could lead to his firing from the Chicago Police Department.

With the service of the charges, Catanzara will be stripped of his pay for 30 days. Catanzara works full-time for the Fraternal Order of Police, and the union reimburses the CPD for his salary.

The fiery first-term union president will face a hearing later this month over obscene and inflammatory posts he made to social media before his election. Additionally, Catanzara faces charges related to a criminal complaint he filed against former CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson and Cmdr. Ronald Pontecore Jr.

All told, Catanzara is accused of violating 11 CPD rules. The first hearing in his Police Board case is scheduled for Feb. 23.

Reached Wednesday, Catanzara was confident in the defense that he and his attorney plan to mount.

“The circus continues,” he said. “That’s fine. No big deal. They’re gonna get a fight like they’ve never got before. They want to have fun, we’re gonna have some fun.”

He added that, even if he was fired from the department, he could still remain as president of the union.

Catanzara has faced heavy criticism in recent weeks after he, in an interview with WBEZ-FM, initially defended the actions of the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol building earlier this month, leaving five people, including a police officer, dead. Catanzara, an outspoken supporter of former President Donald Trump, later apologized, though dozens of aldermen and other civic leaders have continued to call for him to step down as union president.

The controversies around Catanzara come as the FOP continues to negotiate a new contract with the city. Chicago’s rank-and-file police officers have been without a contract for more than 3 1⁄2 years, and dissatisfaction with the previous FOP administration’s negotiation tactics largely propelled Catanzara to victory in the union’s 2020 elections.