Facing termination on day two of his hearing, embattled Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara, Jr., officially retired as a police officer Monday, November 15, after filing his papers with the Chicago Police Department after a 27-year career on the force.
Because he avoided being fired by the Chicago Police Board, Catanzara will remain FOP President. Catanzara called the hearing a “charade” and still plans to run for mayor to unseat his nemesis, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who said Catanzara is running away from accountability with his retirement from the force.
The two have waged a highly publicized fight over her vaccine mandate for all city employees. They have taken each other to court, which recently forced the two to negotiate the terms of a mandate that requires officers to report their vaccination status. At least 40 officers have been stripped of their police powers and put in no-pay status for refusing to report their vaccination status. Meanwhile, Catanzara continues to be vocal about the mandate and his opposition to Mayor Lightfoot.
On Monday, Catanzara walked out of the CPD headquarters at 35th and Michigan to confirm his retirement.
“It’s official,” he told reporters.” I knew in April of last year I was never going to be a uniformed officer again, one way or the other. I was either going to do this job or I was retiring anyway,” said Catanzara.
Catanzara later posted a photo of his official retirement papers on social media. According to documents posted online, Catanzara wrote “Let’s go Brandon” in the remarks section of a personnel action request confirming his retirement. The “Brandon” phrase is often used in right-wing circles as a stand-in for a profane message aimed at President Joe Biden.
In 1995, Catanzara joined the department and last year became the first president of the FOP to be elected while stripped of his police powers.
He faced charges of violating 11 CPD rules in connection to 18 allegations involving controversial posts on social media.
In his statements online, Catanzara compared the city’s vaccine mandate to Nazi Germany. He called Muslims “savages [who] deserve a bullet,” and in posts, Catanzara appeared in his police uniform and expressed messages of support for former President Donald Trump.
Catanzara said he is not joking about challenging Lightfoot in the 2023 mayoral election. “They said I was joking when I said I was gonna be FOP President, too, and here I am. I don’t know what else to say,” said Catanzara. “Everybody’s afraid to stand up to the powers that be. It’s never bothered me. I’m not afraid to take a hard stance,” said Catanzara.
Mayor Lightfoot issued a statement about Catanzara’s retirement.
“Not a surprise, that a man of hate—as John Catanzara has demonstrated over and over that he is—would run away from accountability. The evidence of his guilt was overwhelming as set forth in the hearing, and he clearly sought to avoid the eventual reckoning by resigning, under investigation and then divesting the Police Board of jurisdiction.
“Our police department must be populated by officers who work hard every day to embrace their oath to serve and protect, work to form meaningful relationships with community members and embrace constitutional policing as the only path forward. And the Department needs leadership at all levels who live these values every day.
“We cannot move beyond the very difficult circumstances that we have all endured these last 20 months, unless we reject hate in all its forms, and stand united around our common values as a city that is always stronger when we work together as neighbors.”