Militarization of Police

Wendy McElroy: Under "Cooperation" Act, Cops Can Punch You In the Face Whenever They Want

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To Punch and To Serve

At the Freeman, Wendy McElroy raises another important concern with the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act, the bill to enforce public sector unionization on all states. The PSEECA, which has already been called out for its potential to endanger budgets and hobble cities, may also turn local cops into misbehaving federales:

The act would also diminish police transparency and accountability because it would regulate disciplinary policies through which police and sheriff departments address alleged abuse and misconduct. The act would strengthen unions that have a long record of siding almost unconditionally with their members against such allegations. For example, in June a young black woman who had jaywalked was punched in the face by a Seattle policeman. The president of the local police union declared, "He [the Seattle officer] did nothing wrong. If anything, I think he maybe waited a little too long to engage in force."

Equally, when local authorities attempt to correct police abuse, police unions are often the greatest barrier. The Syracuse Post Standard (July 6) reported, "Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner has taken courageous steps to rid the police department of misbehavior that sullies the image of every officer." Nevertheless, she has come "under withering criticism from the police union for refusing to sign a commendation" for a detective whom a federal jury found guilty last year of using excessive force. On July 19 the Austin police union urged the city council not to accept a $750,000 settlement with the family of a man killed by an officer last year. In many cases, police unions also act to block public and media scrutiny of accused officers.

The act has already passed the House so its fate rests with the Senate. The D.C. watchdog periodical The Hill (July 19) reported, "Senate and House Democrats are headed for a clash this week over funding for U.S. troops….The Senate and House are squabbling over $22.8 billion House appropriators added to the supplemental bill… Senate Democratic leaders doubt the House bill can pass their chamber with the extra spending " Nevertheless, Harry Reid has made it clear he will push the legislation and is threatening to keep the Senate in session past in August 1 if necessary. Given how important the August recess is to upcoming election campaigns, a lot of legislation may well be rushed through.

Related: Texas attorney general says the bill is unconstitutional.