John Catanzara, president of the union announced that Paul Vallas has been supported by Chicago’s Fraternal order of Police in his bid for Mayor.
While Chicago’s police force and supporters are an important group in local elections, Vallas is not happy with the endorsement of the union. He was the ex-CEO of Chicago Public Schools. Catanzara has been the subject of controversy as well as criticisms from the FOP for its defense of police misconduct.
After a distinguished career, Catanzara was fired from Chicago Police Department and could be terminated. Catanzara has made many offensive statements. He defended Jan. 6, protestors in the wake of the Capitol insurrection, and compared Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s vaccine mandate with the Holocaust. Catanzara, a strong supporter of Donald Trump’s former presidency, regularly attended City Council meetings wearing a Trump shirt.
Catanzara stated that only two candidates applied for the endorsement of the group, Vallas and Willie Wilson. This underscores the union’s controversial status.
Lightfoot’s spokesperson, Catanzara’s opponent throughout her term, criticised the endorsement. She said Vallas should not condemn FOP bosses “history filled with hateful rhetoric” but rather “stand alongside him (carrying the) shared MAGA values to City Hall.”
Vallas was criticized for volunteering with FOP during negotiations of its union contract. Vallas, however, highlighted the FOP’s work in the past years to broker the deal in a campaign ad. This was an attempt to portray himself as a moderate force.
Vallas made crime his top topic in recent years. Vallas often posts a torrent of tweets about Chicago violence, saying it is important to support police officers and allow them to work more freely.
Vallas has stated that he wants to see more “proactive police,” or a greater emphasis on the use of low-level arrests. Vallas stated that despite a lack of officers it is important to reduce the “environment in constant disorder.” This starts by removing less serious offenses which could lead to violence.
Vallas also stated that he would like to revise the city’s foot chase policy. This was more than one year after two fatal police shootings, in which officers pursued Adam Toledo, 13, and Adam Toledo, who were both 13 years old. The policy contains a provision that states that an officer can’t engage in foot pursuits unless there is “a valid law enforcement need” to do so. This rule outweighs any dangers.
Vallas stated that the policy looked like a “checklist” when he presented it to the Tribune. You’re only making it more difficult for police officers to act quickly and decisively. If you spot a criminal on the streets, why would you get out of your police car? If you don’t possess this checklist, why would you want to pursue them?
Although Vallas has been vocal in his criticism of the police’s operation under Lightfoot, he also spoke out about violence prevention programs such as keeping schools open on Saturdays, and helping those who have previously served time in prison or are currently unemployed to find work.
The 2023 mayoral election was dominated by crime. In 2020, violent crime rose to the highest point in many decades. This was due to COVID-19 as well civil unrest after George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police officers.
According to data from the Police Department and city statistics, there were 689 murders in 2022.
The 14% decrease in crime was not enough to make it lower than the 2019 total. This is a year that COVID-19 had taken hold. In 2019, there were 496 murders. Lightfoot claims her plan works, while critics claim violent crime is still too high.
Vallas, Wilson and others are trying to unseated Lightfoot in the February 28th election.