Unions defend cops no matter what, making it virtually impossible to fire the bad apples.
By Aaron Sull, World Israel News
With protests still roiling the U.S. over the murder of George Floyd, a slogan turning into a movement to ‘Defund the police’ has been gaining steam. The Minneapolis City Council, which enjoys a veto-proof vote, decided to dismantle its 800-member police force on Sunday.
The drastic measure, which is not supported by the majority of Americans according to polls and from which key Democrats are trying to distance themselves, would be an extreme step in dealing with occasional acts of violence by bad cops who cross the line, critics say.
What may be overlooked is a more effective and targeted way to minimize police abuse. That is by reforming police unions.
A recent study by the University of Victoria’s economics department found that the protections which unions provide to their members directly contribute to higher numbers of misconduct, especially toward minorities.
The Police Union Contract Project, a website that collects and compares police union contracts across the country, found that police union agreements are designed to make it nearly impossible to hold its members accountable.
The information collected found that many unions give law enforcement officials special accommodations, such as limiting which disciplinary actions can be taken and disqualifying misconduct complaints that are submitted too long after an incident occurs.
Many unions prevent officers from being interrogated immediately after a civilian complaint and restrict how or where police officers can be interrogated.
Even police officers who are terminated can be reinstated through union contracts.
The police union in Minneapolis, the city where George Floyd was killed by police, has such an agreement in place. If the four officers charged in the Floyd case are found not guilty for second-degree murder, they could seek reinstatement under their union contract. The Minneapolis Police Union has already said it would fight to get their jobs back.
“That combination leads to an arrogance of a police officer who can kill a man in broad daylight while being taped and believe he can get away with it,” said Gloria Browne-Marshall, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York told Reuters.
“When there are no consequences, that’s when people act with impunity,” she said.
Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis Police officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck leading to the latter’s death, had 16 conduct complaints against him, Minnesota’s Star Tribune reports. Tou Thao, one of the officers who watched Chauvin, had been previously sued for breaking in the teeth of a suspect already in handcuffs.
A June 5 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal says, “A first step would be to let go of the lowest-performing 2% of public-sector workers—in this case, police officers—each year. That would help ensure that the most violent, disrespectful and incompetent officers are dismissed each year.”
Only a few voices have pointed out the damage public-sector police unions have done to the public and to their own cause, by protecting even the bad police among their members.