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New Chicago police union boss receives White House welcome

“He has been the policeman’s friend more than almost any other president in modern times, and it makes a difference when we’re getting beat up constantly from every other direction.”

On May 8, the Chicago Police union’s rank-and-file membership announced their new president, John Catanzara. On the heels of this came a warm White House welcome from President Donald Trump. Via his go-to communications tool, President Trump extended a heartfelt virtual handshake to 25-year Chicago police veteran Catanzara via Twitter.

Known to be a bold and outspoken cop’s cop, especially when it comes to Chicago police executives and the Windy City’s elected officials who he feels disavow or ill-support the roughly 13,500-sworn-member police force, Catanzara has his work cut out for him.

According to the Charlotte Observer, “Catanzara has been a longtime outspoken critic of the police department’s leadership and city government. He’s often chided top police brass on various issues during monthly Chicago Police Board meetings.”

An approaching police contract negotiating process is on the near horizon, which will assuredly test the waters of the new police union boss who defeated former union head Kevin Graham in a runoff. Catanzara’s vote count of 4,709 beat Graham’s 3,872.

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The embattled Chicago police force which endures weekends resulting in upticks in already horrid homicide routs engender the wonder of how best to take control of an unraveling whose gun laws are touted as some of the toughest in the country.

Yet the Chicago Police Department as a whole is not the only embattled entity. The new police union president has some heavy baggage on his back which needs offloading. Per the Associated Press, Catanzara “is currently relieved of his police powers and under investigation by the department on allegations related to a 2018 police report he filed against then-police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.” Although the 2018 police report is acknowledged, those “allegations” are not spelled out.

In a metropolis city such as Chicago, one formerly governed by Obama buddy Rahm Emanuel, it would seem foolhardy to think that no hiccups exist. Indeed the Chicago PD has had its expansive share of corruption throughout its 184-year existence.

The AP offered an example which directly involves the new police union leader and the former Chicago police figurehead: “Catanzara accused Johnson of breaking the law by allowing marchers onto the Dan Ryan Expressway during the summer of 2018 to protest city violence.” So among other questionable behavior by the former Chicago police commander, there’s that fishy thread which ostensibly has some political tentacles.

President Catanzara is seeking to score pay increases for the Chicago cops while under the pressure of looking in from without (suspension of police powers which often belies limited access to the police family and its network of participants). Nevertheless, Catanzara appears as if he has his hand on the throttle, supplemented by a quarter century as a Chicago cop, one who has been around long enough to know the ins and outs of an historically troubled department.

Besides the multifaceted layers in politics and inherent challenges to meet the needs of the majority, both President Trump and Chicago Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #7 President John Catanzara have one unshakable commonality: Adoration and respect for law enforcement officers.

After seeing the tweet of support from President Trump, Catanzara made mention: “I would absolutely support him in any way, shape or form, [which] I can personally as the president of Lodge 7 alongside the larger umbrella of the Fraternal Order of Police, who obviously has the president’s back no matter what,” Catanzara told the Chicago Sun-Times. “He has been the policeman’s friend more than almost any other president in modern times, and it makes a difference when we’re getting beat up constantly from every other direction.”

meet the author

Stephen Owsinski is a LifeZette contributing editor. Owsinski is a retired law enforcement officer whose career included assignments in the Uniformed Patrol Division and Field Training Officer (FTO) unit. He is also a columnist for the National Police Association.

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