Embattled FOP president wants police board to drop case that could lead to his firing

John Catanzara filed a motion Wednesday to dismiss the administrative charges against him, citing unfair labor practice charges his union has lodged against the police department.

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Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara speaks during a rally for President Donald Trump in Mount Greenwood last November.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file

John Catanzara, the embattled Chicago police union president, is pushing the city to drop the administrative case that could result in his firing from the Chicago Police Department.

Max Caproni, executive director of the Chicago Police Board, said Catanzara filed a motion Wednesday to dismiss the administrative charges the first-time union boss was served with last month.

Catanzara is accused of violating 11 department rules for authoring a series of obscene and inflammatory social media posts, making false reports and being insubordinate or disrespectful to supervisors, among other allegations.

“He took the position that the union filed an unfair labor practice against the [police] department with the Illinois Labor Relations Board and therefore the police board case should either be dismissed because of that or at least it should be stayed, which means postponed,” Caproni said.

Since late December, the Fraternal Order of Police has filed at least two labor complaints against the police department on Catanzara’s behalf.

The most recent complaint was filed Jan. 13 — just two days after dozens of aldermen backed a resolution demanding Catanzara’s resignation after he defended the actions of the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol earlier that month. Catanzara, a vocal supporter of former President Donald Trump, later apologized for his comments.

The other charge from Dec. 28 was filed in response to the city “seeking his termination” based on the social media posts. The filing claims that some of Catanzara’s incendiary posts “are protected concerted activity due to being shared with fellow bargaining unit employees and raising issues related to the terms and conditions of employment of all bargaining unit members.”

Indeed, some of the online comments Catanzara made before he took over the union were related to his police work. Among other things, he’s under scrutiny for assailing superior officers and encouraging other cops to stop chasing crime suspects.

But he also made public comments that were both sexual and violent in nature. In a Facebook post about Muslims from 2017, Catanzara responded to a video of a woman being stoned by commenting, “Savages they all deserve a bullet.”

In the earlier complaint, the union also said it filed a grievance “protesting the termination as being without just cause and in violation of other provisions of the parties’ collective bargaining agreement.”

The most recent labor charge claims the city’s actions, including those of Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the City Council, aim to “intimidate and retaliate” against Catanzara in his role as the police union boss.

But those charges haven’t prevented the city from reprimanding Catanzara. When he was served with the administrative charges in February, Catanzara was 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.

Lawyers for Supt. David Brown must now respond to Catanzara’s motion, Caproni said. Catanzara’s next status hearing is set for June 3, at which point Caproni said the police board “may have either a ruling or more information on that motion to dismiss.”

Catanzara and the attorney who filed the complaints didn’t respond to requests for comment. Neither did spokespeople for the police department and the mayor’s office.

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