Chicago (CBS) — The embattled head of Chicago’s largest police union has announced that he will retire from the Chicago Police Department, effective Tuesday, after taking the hot seat in a hearing that could result in his departure from the force.
At the end of the first of the three-day evidentiary hearing on disciplinary charges, Chicago Brotherhood Police Department Chief John Catanzara informed the Chicago Police Board that the agency was planning to step down, effectively putting an end to the department’s offer to fire him. .
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“I informed them of my intention to retire tomorrow morning, first thing tomorrow morning, and put an end to this farce for which we already knew what the outcome would be. In God’s green Earth, I’ve never been able to give this mayor the ability to say the words ‘I fired him’. That wasn’t going to happen, period,” Catanzara said Monday evening.
The Police Board said it set up a case hearing Tuesday morning for Catanzara’s disciplinary case. If Catanzara resigns, the hearings will not continue — because when an officer resigns from the Chicago Police Department, the Police Board no longer has the authority to issue disciplinary action.
Catanzara, who has repeatedly clashed with Mayor Lori Lightfoot, also said she will run for mayor in 2023.
“Lightfoot has to go,” he said.
As CBS 2 Researcher Megan Hickey reported, Catanzara was facing the prospect of being fired after being accused of violating the 11 CPD rules. Disciplinary charges against him include disobedience, incompetence, disobedience, participation in partisan political activities, and making false reports.
Lawyers representing the Police Department focused on Catanzara’s public “offensive” social media posts between 2016 and 2018 on Monday. They also focused on his allegations that he had made two false police reports.
In July 2018, the then-police Supt. Eddie Johnson surprised many residents as he walked arm-in-arm with Reverend Michael Pfleger and Reverend Jesse Jackson during an anti-violence march that closed the Dan Ryan Highway in July 2018.
The charging documents show that Catanzara created an incident report using someone else’s hit number to accuse Johnson of trespassing. He then filed another report for obstruction of justice to another senior CPD official in November 2018, when he canceled the first report, according to the accusation documents.
On Monday, Catanzara advocated preparing both of these reports, claiming that it sees itself as a “whistleblower”.
He was also presented with his own public social media posts, the basis of more than a dozen accusations. The indictment documents describe the posts as “disrespectful”, “obscene”, “biased towards Muslims” and even “threatening”.
Records show that the posts contained statements suggesting killing people and recommending that officers stop chasing criminals.
“All savages deserve a bullet,” Catanzara said in a post, referring to Muslims.
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Catanzara was asked questions about each post Monday—it said it was done as a private citizen, not as a Chicago Police officer.
He blamed “Facebook trolls” for provoking him and said he felt compelled to defend himself and his fellow officers.
The Police Board does not allow the recording of these hearings. But Catanzara did touch on the beginning of the termination hearing in a public video on Friday.
“The mayor has decided he wants a circus. He made it clear that I couldn’t win this case; Catanzara said I would never wear a uniform again. “I think we’ll see if the Security Council member does the right thing or does what he’s told.”
Monday was the first of three days of hearings on these charges. The nine-member Police Board is not expected to reach a decision until early next year.
Catanzara has been suspended multiple times since joining the department in 1995. According to the Invisible Institute, a public website with full records of police misconduct, between 2003 and 2013 Catanzara was disciplined at least eight times for misconduct:
- He was once suspended for 30 days after an investigation into allegations of domestic abuse in 2003.
- He was condemned in 2003 following an investigation into the alleged use of excessive force.
- He was suspended from duty for six days in 2003 following an investigation into allegations of unprofessional behavior by engaging with a criminal while off duty.
- He was suspended from duty for 20 days in 2004 following an investigation into allegations of misconduct by engaging with a criminal while off duty.
- He was suspended for 10 days for disobedience in 2005.
- In 2007, he was suspended from duty for 15 days following an investigation into alleged personnel violations at an Old Town tavern.
- He was suspended for 20 days after the Chicago Police Board found him guilty in 2008 of violating department rules by working as a private security guard while on medical leave for a back injury. Sub. Garry McCarthy had tried to fire him.
- He was suspended from duty for 10 days following the investigation of various personnel violations in 2013.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Police Supt at the time. Jody Weis tried to fire Catanzara in 2008, accusing her of not following orders to complete a psychological examination, but the Chicago Police Board cleared Catanzara of wrongdoing.
On Wednesday, a group of 38 elders presented a resolution urging Catanzara to resign over comments about the raid on the US Capitol earlier this month or when the FOP board of directors forced him out. In an interview on the day of the Capitol riot, Catanzara falsely claimed that she had not suffered any violence from those who raided the building.
Catanzara later apologized for what she called “error of judgment” after defending the rebels in an interview with WBEZ public radio.
In that interview, Catanzara said the Capitol understood the motives behind the attack, which killed at least five people. a deceased US Capitol Police officer One day after Catanzara falsely claimed, “There is clearly no violence in this crowd.”
Catanzara was selected to lead the Sister Police Service in 2020 while under investigation.
He could lead the FOP even after he retired. The union’s bylaws contain a provision for the union’s board to retain him as chairman, even if he is no longer employed by the CPD.
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Catanzara currently lacks police powers.