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Chicago police union chooses new president in runoff election

Oft-disciplined Chicago police officer John Catanzara won a runoff election against incumbent Kevin Graham, the Fraternal Order of Police announced Friday.

Chicago Police Officer John Catanzara
Chicago Police Officer John Catanzara speaks during the public comment portion of a Chicago City Council meeting at City Hall, Wednesday morning, Oct. 23, 2019.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file photo

Rank-and-file Chicago police officers have chosen John Catanzara as the new president of their union for the next three years, replacing incumbent Kevin Graham in a runoff election.

Two months after an election in which no candidate received at least 50% support, Catanzara won 54.9% of the vote in the runoff, notching 4,709 votes to Graham’s 3,872, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 announced Friday evening.

Thursday was the last day for officers to cast in-person ballots at the union’s West Loop headquarters, though most votes were mailed in.

“Kevin Graham would like to Congratulate the new head of The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #7, President John Catanzara,” a union statement read.

Reached Saturday, Catanzara declined to comment but said he’d make a statement Sunday.

Graham assumed union leadership three years ago after beating former President Dean Angelo Sr. in another runoff. Graham and Catanzara were two of five candidates running in the general election in March.

Graham’s time in FOP leadership has been hallmarked by his criticism of the Chicago Police Department’s reform efforts and consent decree, which were spurred by the release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video and subsequent investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The union has been without a contract for more than 2 ½ years. In December, the FOP board voted to put its demand for an 18% pay raise over three years in the hands of an independent arbitrator.

Earlier this week, Catanzara pledged to take an aggressive approach in negotiations with City Hall should he be elected.

Catanzara was stripped of his police powers and assigned to administrative duty for filing a police report against now-fired police Supt. Eddie Johnson after Johnson marched arm-in-arm with the Rev. Michael Pfleger on the Dan Ryan Expressway.

Three years ago, Catanzara was reprimanded for posting a picture of himself on social media dressed in his police uniform holding an American flag and a homemade sign that read, “I stand for the anthem. I love the American flag. I support my President and the Second Amendment.”

Catanzara was also recommended for firing in 2012 after Independent Police Review Authority investigators determined he had been working security at an Old Town restaurant while he was on medical leave from CPD with a back injury.

The board found him guilty but opted to suspend him for 20 days.

Contributing: Nader Issa, Ben Pope