Mike Riggs on Why It's Damn Near Impossible to Fire a Bad Cop


In 2009, Officer Edward Krawetz of the Lincoln Police Department arrested Donna Levesque for unruly behavior at a Rhode Island casino. While seated on the ground with her hands cuffed behind her, Levesque kicked Krawetz in the shin. Krawetz responded by cocking back his right leg and nailing Levesque in the side of the head, knocking her over. In March 2012, Krawetz was convicted of felony battery despite his claim that he kicked Levesque in "self defense." The 10-year sentence he received was immediately suspended, and Krawetz was ordered to attend anger management classes. But he wasn't fired from the Lincoln Police Department. Under Rhode Island law, the fate of Krawetz's job as a cop rested not with a criminal court, or even his commanding officer, but in the hands of a three-person panel composed of fellow police officers–one of whom Krawetz would get to choose.

Krawetz and cops like him across the county are able to keep their jobs and benefits—sometimes only temporarily, but always longer than they should—thanks to model legislation written and lobbied for by well-funded police unions. That piece of legislation is called the Law Enforcement Bill of Rights, writes Mike Riggs, and its sole purpose is to shield cops from the laws they're paid to enforce.