CPD union president faces firing over Facebook posts

At Thursday’s monthly meeting of the Chicago Police Board, member Andrea Zopp ruled that John Catanzara, the outspoken first-term head of the Fraternal Order of Police, will face an evidentiary hearing that could determine his future with the department.

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Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 President John Catanzara (center).

Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 President John Catanzara (center)

Ashlee Rezin Garcia / Sun-Times file

John Catanzara, the president of the union representing rank-and-file Chicago police officers, could be fired from the Chicago Police Department over posts on social media after a Thursday night ruling from a member of the CPD’s oversight body.

At Thursday’s monthly meeting of the Chicago Police Board, member Andrea Zopp ruled that Catanzara, the outspoken first-term head of the Fraternal Order of Police, will face an evidentiary hearing that could determine his future with the department.

The hearing will focus on incendiary and profane posts that Catanzara made on his Facebook account between November 2016 and February 2018.

In one post, according to records from the Police Board, Catanzara wrote: “Wtf its [sic] seriously time to kill these motherf———,” though it was not clear who Catanzara was referring to. Reached Thursday night, Catanzara said the comment was made in reference to people who have killed police officers.

In another post, Catanzara suggested someone perform a sex act on him, and in another he referred to a superior officer in the CPD as “spineless.”

“There is no level of fairness that would even be attached to any of this,” Catanzara said when reached Thursday night.

It’s not yet clear when Catanzara’s hearing will begin. Before he was elected union president, Catanzara was one of the most frequently disciplined members of the department and is the first president of the FOP to be elected while stripped of his police powers.

Sydney Roberts, the chief administrator of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, had recommended that Catanzara be fired for his comments. CPD Supt. David Brown called for a one-year suspension. Their disagreement triggered a process in which a randomly selected member of the nine-person board — all appointees of the mayor — would decide whether or not to advance the case to an evidentiary hearing.

Thursday’s decision from Zopp comes as the FOP and City Hall remain at odds over a new contract for rank-and-file officers. The FOP’s last contract expired more than 3 12 years ago and the two sides have shown few public signs of a warming relationship in recent months.

Catanzara was chosen by rank-and-file Chicago police officers in May 2020 to replace Kevin Graham as the president of the FOP.

Since then, the outspoken and controversial union leader has remained at odds with Mayor Lori Lightfoot, often criticizing her for her response to crime and going as far as penning a letter to President Donald Trump pleading for federal help with the city’s gun violence.

Catanzara accused Lightfoot of calling the shots when it came to policing the city and turning Brown into some sort of figurehead.

Lightfoot has fired back by calling the FOP president a “clown” and “total fraud.”

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