CHICAGO (AP) – The head of Chicago’s largest police union said Monday he would retire from the department amid a disciplinary hearing that could have ended with his dismissal.
John Catanzara, chairman of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, said he believes the outcome of the case against him is predetermined, according to the Chicago Tribune reported. The Chicago Police Board hearing focused on his past conduct, including his allegations of offensive statements on social media.
“It was pretty obvious early on that this cake was already baked,” Catanzara said. “I’m going to be in HR early in the morning and I’m going to retire. I won’t be a Chicago cop anymore.… No one can touch me, not you, not this police station.
Earlier, during his testimony, Catanzara had said: “I do not deny that the language used is described as coarse or vulgar to many people, but if it was a punishable offense, our mayor would be fired. .
The hearing was to last three days. But the Chicago Sun-Times reported that if Catanzara were to retire, Lauren Freeman, the hearing officer overseeing the case, said the case would be closed.
Catanzara has often publicly confronted Mayor Lori Lightfoot. He faced stiff criticism earlier this year for initially downplaying the violence during the January 6 riot at the United States Capitol and more recently by comparing the vaccination mandate of city workers to Nazi Germany.
Catanzara apologized after making the statements, saying he expressed sympathy for those who stormed the Capitol before knowing the extent of the damage. He also apologized for the Nazi reference and said he was not trying to compare “forced vaccinations to Holocaust atrocities”.
Before being elected FOP president last year, he was stripped of his police powers after filing a report against the former police superintendent. Eddie Johnson.
More recently, the Superintendent. David Brown sued Catanzara for a series of statements on social networks and other actions. According to the indictment document filed with the city police council, Catanzara issued a number of offensive and profane statements, expressing support for the killing of people and calling Muslims “savages (who) all deserve a bullet” .
The document also alleged that Catanzara, a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, violated department policy by expressing his political views while on duty – which he did in 2017 in uniform. His support caught the attention of Trump, who tweeted his congratulations when Catanzara was elected union president.
As a police officer, Catanzara, since joining the department in 1995, has been the subject of 50 misconduct complaints – 10 of which have been upheld – according to a database maintained by the Invisible Institute, a journalism production company in Chicago.