CHICAGO (CBS) — Rank-and-file Chicago police officers have elected John Catanzara, an outspoken critic of City Hall and the department’s top brass, as their union leader, following a runoff election.
Catanzara got nearly 55% of the vote, winning 4,709 votes in the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police runoff election against his predecessor, Kevin Graham, who got 3,872 votes, according to the union. The two finished first and second, respectively, in a five-way race in March, but since neither received a majority of votes, they faced off in a runoff this week.READ MORE: City Celebrating Chicago Sky WNBA Championship In Millennium Park Tuesday
“Kevin Graham would like to Congratulate the new head of The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #7, President John Catanzara,” the union said in a statement.
The FOP has gone nearly three years without a contract at a time when the Chicago Police Department is implementing court-ordered reforms prompted by a Justice Department investigation that found systemic abuses by against minorities, including officers routinely using excessive force against African Americans and Hispanics.
The investigation was spurred in large part by the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.READ MORE: Chicago Firefighter Fired Over Racist Social Media Posts; City Worker Reprimanded For Bringing Gun To O'Hare
Catanzara has been a frequent critic of reform efforts and City Hall policies over the last several years; often chiding the mayor and aldermen at monthly City Council meetings.
According to published reports, Catanzara has been stripped of his police powers, amid a department investigation into filing a police report against former Police Supt. Eddie Johnson in 2018, when the since-fired superintendent marched on the Dan Ryan Expressway with Rev. Michael Pfleger during an anti-violence protest rally.
Catanzara also has been suspended multiple times since joining the department in 1995. According to the Invisible Institute, a public website that contains all police misconduct records, Catanzara was disciplined at least eight times for misconduct between 2003 and 2013:
- He was once suspended for 30 days following an investigation into allegations of domestic abuse in 2003.
- He was reprimanded following an investigation into an allegation of excessive force in 2003.
- He was suspended for six days following an investigation into allegations of conduct unbecoming an officer by associating with a felon while off-duty in 2003.
- He was suspended for 20 days following an investigation into allegations of conduct unbecoming by associating with a felon while off-duty in 2004.
- He was suspended for 10 days for insubordination in 2005.
- He was suspended for 15 days following an investigation into an allegation of a personnel violation at an Old Town tavern in 2007.
- He was suspended for 20 days after the Chicago Police Board found him guilty of violating department rules by working as a private security guard while on medical leave for a back injury in 2008. Supt. Garry McCarthy had sought to fire him.
- He was suspended for 10 days following an investigation into miscellaneous personnel violations in 2013.
According to the Chicago Tribune, then-Police Supt. Jody Weis sought to fire Catanzara in 2008, accusing him of failing to follow orders to complete a psychological exam, but the Chicago Police Board cleared Catanzara of wrongdoing.MORE NEWS: City Of Evanston To Enact Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Policy For Municipal Staff