Police Abuse

Police Union: No 'Just Cause' for Firing Ray Tensing, Ohio Campus Cop Who Shot and Killed Unarmed Man

Demands due process rights promised in his contract. Victim's due process rights promised in the Constitution, ignored.

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UC

Although former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing faces murder charges for shooting and killing Samuel DuBose as the man tried to drive away from a traffic stop over a missing front license plate, Tensing believes he ought to have his job—which provided him with a firearm and the authority to use deadly force—back. The Fraternal Order of Police, which represents University of Cincinnati police officers, is filing a grievance on Tensing's behalf.

Cincinnati.com reports:

"We filed the grievance, No. 1 because there was no just cause, and No. 2 because he was not afforded his due process rights under the contract," Fehr said.

Friday, university spokeswoman Michele Ralston said: "The university stands by its decision to terminate Officer Ray Tensing."

The grievance said, "Officer Tensing was terminated on 7/29/2015 without just cause for an on-duty fatal shooting. While Officer Tensing was indicted on a charge of murder, the indictment is not a conviction. Officer Tensing was also denied his due process rights of a pre-disciplinary hearing under the contract."

The union is correct that an indictment is not a conviction, but the implicit claim that only a criminal conviction can justify the firing of a cop for criminal behavior is a dangerous one. This attitude, expressed by police unions and police officers around the country, contributes to the urgency of the calls to prosecute, and convict, cops after they're involved in questionable shootings.

Of course police officers, like all people, deserve due process and the presumption of innocence when they are prosecuted and processed through the criminal justice system. That is a constitutional standard, but it's not a standard that ought to apply for the mere termination of a police officer's employment contract.

Police unions specifically, and public unions in general, however, have been largely successful in applying the same high standard of proof the government is required to produce in order to deprive someone of their liberty to the administrative process of termination. This has made it more difficult to fire police officers involved in misconduct, as these cops are not always brought before the criminal justice system.

As I explained last summer after the killing of Michael Brown propelled police violence into the national news cycle, police unions produce rules that protect bad actors, like Ray Tensing, because that is what the union is there for. While many Democratic candidate are turning to the issue of criminal justice and police reform to shore up support among the base, none has addressed the importance of tackling police unions and their rules. In June, a former attorney from the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division made the same points about police unions in an op-ed for The New York Times.

Many of the protesters and others who have begun to pay attention to the issue of police violence in the last year, unfortunately, have not focused on the role of police unions. Many have focused almost exclusively on the racist and racialist aspects of police violence, based on the disproportionate numbers of black people, armed and unarmed, being shot by cops. But if police union rules protect a cop who has killed someone from losing his job, those rules will also protect them from being fired over being racists. And it's a lot easier for a police officer to claim he doesn't hold incorrect attitudes or beliefs than it is for a police officer who has shot and killed someone to claim that he didn't shoot and kill someone. In that way, where the focus on racism in policing is exclusive it provides a useful distraction from the impunity with which police officers can kill people of all races and genders and continue to be employed by the government  to roam the streets armed.

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  1. Police have rights, too!

    #BlueLivesMatter

    1. Blue lives or black lives?

      1. Black-and-blue lives.

    2. They have extra-Constitutional “rights”. Look up the Law Enforcement Bill of Rights.

  2. Standing would be a problem, but I wonder if you could argue in that the policemen’s contract has unconscionable terms if it requires continued employment of people who are a threat to other citizen’s lives, and have it thrown out in court?

    1. He’s only a threat to the lives of people who refuse to immediately and unquestioningly obey his every whim.

    2. Yes, I’m sure the founders just slipped up when they left out “unless there were unconscionable terms” when they wrote “No State shall … make any … Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts…” into the Constitution.

  3. What does the contract say? It sounds like the union has a point. If people don’t like this, blame the city for signing the contract not the union for expecting it to be enforced as written.

    1. Unfortunately, that is correct. Perhaps a “compromise” would be to have police contracts that call for immediate dismissal, allow the police union to continue pay the accused out of its own funds, and then have union reimbursed if the cop is found innocent of charges? If the police union has some skin in the game, maybe they won’t be so reluctant to cast out the bad apples.

      1. You can’t blame the union for extracting the best deal they can get. That is their job. The people to blame for this is the city who rolled over.

        Really though, what if the guy is innocent? I don’t think that not firing someone until they are actually convicted of a crime is that onerous. He shouldn’t be working as a cop. I am, however, willing to pay criminal cops for the time it takes to convict them in order to avoid the harm of firing and doing irreparable harm to the odd cop who is actually innocent.

        The cases that are outrageous are when the cop gets convicted and still keeps his job, which has happened.

        1. What incentive does the city have to not roll over? Worst thing that could happen is they have to raise taxes to cover settlements.

          1. No, the worst thing that can happen is the voters vote them out of a job over it. And if the voters won’t do that, then they get the police department they deserve.

            1. There are no voters in this case.

              1. The people who negotiate the contracts are responsible to the voters, either directly, if the politicians do the bargaining, or indirectly, if they are hired negotiators, but in almost every case the local representatives – council members, supervisors, or whatever they are called – vote to approve the contract.
                Those are the ones that should be voted out of office if the citizens don’t like what was agreed to in the contract.

            2. The public employee unions are far more important when it comes to reelection than Joe Schmoe.

              1. But that’s only because Joe Schmoe listens to the police unions and thinks their endorsement is a good thing for a candidate.

        2. Contracts can be designed to protect point-blank assassination on the front row of your favorite church and the president of a prestigious college will still sign the line to hire one of your broken worms if the term ‘police’ is in your union name.

          It’s madness to suggest the F.O.P. plays no role in the creation and protection of homicidal agents.

          1. I am not saying they don’t. I am saying what do you expect? They are a union. Protect employees, good or bad, is what unions do. If you don’t like that, then get rid of police unions or expect cities to stand up to them.

            1. Protect employees, good or bad, is what unions do.

              True enough, but protecting fat fucking Bob and his Cheeto-eating laze at a BP refinery seems more par for the course when you exist naturally to ass-rape corporations than fiercely protecting cold-blooded killers and their persistent exclusive right to bullet citizens in the head when they don’t pay attention.

            2. In terms of their political arrangement they’re indistinguishable from the political machine. Police unions protect a political class much like the NAACP represents a political class, but unlike the NAACP police are an arm of the government. Government contracting with itself to protect itself is a situation that should be violated or struck down regardless of what the contract says.

        3. The people to blame for this is the city who rolled over.

          The University, actually. And the cop can kill you even if you don’t attend and aren’t on its property.

          Really though, what if the guy is innocent? I don’t think that not firing someone until they are actually convicted of a crime is that onerous.

          I’d bet you a lot of money that my bosses would disagree.

          1. Good for them. But so what? Do you do a job that requires a fair amount of legal liability? If not, then I don’t blame your bosses. I am as anti cop as anyone. I also understand that not everyone who is charged with a crime, including cops, is guilty. If you think they are because they are a cop and don’t give a shit if an innocent person is wrongly charged in some political case and loses their job, then you are no better than the bad cops you claim to hate.

            1. Cops should be bonded like any other profession with a great deal of liability, but no civil or legal protections beyond that. Not unless we open the field to competing services and market demand can sort out which model works best. Public sector unions are wholly illegitimate burdens on citizens.

              1. Public sector unions are wholly illegitimate burdens on citizens.

                Exactly. Private companies have an incentive to negotiate realistic contracts with unions. After all, if the quality of their product suffers or their prices get to high as a result of the contract, customers may choose not to buy their products, resulting in the company going out of business. Not so much with governments. It’s not like their “customers” can, short of moving to a place governed by a different government, choose not to “buy” their “products.” I’m not even sure if the people who are on the government’s negotiating team are even elected and able to be voted out of a job.

                1. In virtually every case, the governing board of any municipality signs off on any contract. They bear responsibility and, if the voters don’t pay enough attention to what their elected representatives are doing, it is no one’s fault but their own.

                  I am not particularly surprised by the reactions, here. I seriously doubt that any of these “no tolerance” posters would be happy with being fired, themselves for, simply, being accused of a crime, because, until there has been a conviction, in a court of law, that is all this cop, or anyone else, is – an accused criminal.

          2. I don’t think that not firing someone until they are actually convicted of a crime is that onerous.

            I do. I have negotiated, hard, a number of contracts where the other side was whining about due process and how just being charged shouldn’t justify terminating the contract.

            I told them there was no way we would keep anybody on who had been charged with a felony. No. Way. Reputational damage, disruption of operations, etc.

            1. It’s laughable that an organization whose consumers have no alternative or recourse and little say in its affairs can be said to contract in good faith with an organization whose consumers have no alternative or recourse and little say in its affairs. Let’s drop the myth that elections are any sign of public imprimatur for the operational minutia of untouchable political offices. Public sector unions are profane.

            2. I certainly hope you are never falsely charged with a felony – especially since the initial charges filed are the most severe that could be imagined, just to be able to elicit a guilty plea on a lesser charge.
              If the employees you were negotiating with accepted this lack of due process protection, you must have some really weak-minded workers.
              Considering the libertarian belief in the unfairness of the WOD and the fact that being charged with driving while having drugs in one’s system, is a felony, I would think that libertarians would be more concerned with whether that felony charge would inure to losing one’s livelihood.
              Goose and gander argument , anyone?

              1. I believe you have a point here, the problem is that in this particular case we have video evidence the police officer murdered someone.

                If you ran a business, and someone showed you video of one of your workers murdering someone, you really wouldn’t fire them?

                1. I should also add that if you really understood libertarian ideology you would understand a boss should have every right to fire anyone for any reason.

                  I would appreciate it though if my boss and my co-workers would give me the benefit of the doubt if the evidence released publicly against me was flaky and I was merely being charged.

                  However, I wouldn’t really expect them to if they had seen video of me clearly murdering someone.

                  Even if the video had been professionally doctored, that’s something that if it came out during trial and caused someone to be acquitted as a result, the damage to one’s reputation should hopefully be mostly restored.

                  I think being wrongly accused and then being acquitted would at least garner sympathy from people, one should be able to recover their career in such a situation.

                  To expect them not to fire you when there’s very clear video evidence of you killing someone is completely absurd though.

          3. I know a person who was charged with a drug crime and lost her factory job, the day it was in the paper! I guess the cops, who have a chance to kill anyone they decide to kill, should get off easier? We have been approaching a criminal police state for years. Something has to happen to reverse the violence. If not, we will end up looking like Nazi Germany! PAPERS PLEASE!!

        4. You can’t blame the union for extracting the best deal they can get. That is their job.

          Actually, I can and do blame all co-conspirators in any criminal enterprise. Just saying that “Welp, that’s their role” doesn’t get them off the hook. These contracts are deeply immoral, and anyone who promoted them is also deeply immoral and deserves to be condemned.

        5. The problem with these “contracts” is that the signatories are bargaining against the resources of a third, non-signatory party. It’s not like the government’s contract representative is paying the union members out of his own pocket. If I signed a contract with somebody promising him a certain income that I would obtain by regularly stealing from you, what court would uphold it?

          You are correct in a practical sense that this is not likely to change unless the voters do something about it. But we are supposed to be living in a republic, not a democracy; furthermore, we are (outside of Louisiana) governed by the common law. Once upon a time there was some understanding that excesses created or enabled by democracy would be checked by other mechanisms.

          1. Seems to me that the problem with these contracts is that the politicians who sign them are offering terms that should not, legally, be theirs to offer. Of course saying “I understand that you want immunity from being treated like other citizens, but that is what you are going to have to live with.” might make the Unions cease supporting the politician who said it. Doesn’t excuse them from the duty to say it, though.

            1. Besides the voters, I think the responsibility for this falls most heavily on the judges. Qualified immunity and “due process” contract provisions should not be upheld by the courts. Yet the judges have granted ever more deference to the police and their unions. Moreover, I think a lot of “LEOBOR” and “LEOPA” statutes should be thrown out; they have pretty much turned “law enforcement officer” into a form of knighthood, and titles of nobility are forbidden by the Constitution. That (practically) no judge would entertain such a challenge reflects poorly on the judicial establishment.

              1. How stupid can you be?
                Qualified immunity is analogous to, no equal to, a title of nobility?
                I’ve got news for you – every level of government, especially judges, have some forms of immunity bestowed upon them.
                Ever seen a successful suit against a judge, who released a criminal that went out and killed someone? How about a parole board? A prosecutor, who dropped the charges? A building inspector, when the building falls down?
                Most of the sane people wouldn’t do these kinds of jobs without some kind of protection.
                Grow up!

          2. In a republic, the voters elect representatives that make the decisions. If the voters don’t like the decisions, they get to vote for someone they think will do a better job of that, than the one they chose before.
            How is that not working here?
            Oh, because you blithely go about your business and only get interested when something happens that you don’t like, then you proclaim the system flawed?
            If you are that concerned with what your elected representatives are doing, pay attention all the time and voice your opinion where it can make a difference, to try to stop the politicians, that are not serving your needs, from being re-elected.
            Wanting to have things your way, after the fact, is childish.

      2. Public service unions…

        Government workers, paid with someone else’s money, negotiating for benefits with other government workers, paid with someone else’s money.

        1. I don’t know why, but I find public service unions extremely distasteful. And I say that as an employee of a state university. I don’t have a good, logical reason why people who are government employees shouldn’t be able to negotiate collectively, and it’s probably just my own prejudices, but it still bothers me.

          1. I’m certain that police shouldn’t be allowed to unionize.

            If a private business’s workforce unionizes, and prices increase due to higher wage demands, and quality suffers due to the difficulty of firing bad employees, the consumers are free to take their business to a competitor.

            But police departments are not private businesses; we have no choice but to “buy” their “service”. The result is that the police unions, which are unassailable by ordinary citizens, have almost total control over policing – the one legitimate government function if there ever was one.

            The predictable result is that police behave like thugs because they know the union will protect them, and they know that the union cannot be voted out of office or otherwise be held accountable in any way. The police unions either need to be eliminated, or their relationship to police departments needs to undergo some massive changes. At the very very least, the union should have to pay settlements to families of citizens wrongly killed, not the taxpayers.

            As for other public sector employees, I don’t know. I’m inclined to think that employees of any absolute government monopoly should not be allowed to unionize.

            1. You can elect a whole raft of representatives that promise to reject the union as the bargaining unit.
              Give it a try.

              1. Well yea, I was just talking about principles. I know that actually getting anything done liberty-wise is damn near impossible.

    2. Bingo. These contracts are ridiculously biased to the police because God forbid police officers go on strike (which I don’t even think is legally allowed anywhere).

      1. God forbid police officers go on strike (which I don’t even think is legally allowed anywhere)

        Indeed. The labor movement conspired with the tough-on-crime movement (not that the two are entirely distinct, mind you) at some point in the last century. It was not so long ago that the Boston Police Strike was broken by firing the strikers, rather than caving to their demands.

        1. Not so long ago?
          1919?

  4. The law enforcement protection racket called the F.O.P. is a gloomy chest-beating hive that should elicit repulsion and scorn the second its beady syllables pop above the waste of its trophy warehouse of rotting bodies, broken limbs, trunks of blood, and countless shelves of American brains twisted under the merciless F.O.P. knee and knuckle.

    FUCK the law enforcement pale brain. The most advanced and brutal of their kind have managed death camps and genocides under the loving shades of enforced law. Law enforcement should exist narrowly within open society and only to address the most extreme among the peaceful. Period. Leave these macabre fuckers out of general society and let us work to develop fucking empathetic philosophies to address the human condition, rather than embracing blindly the mindless brutality leveled daily across the geography of humanity’s desire to resist conformity.

  5. While many Democratic candidate are turning to the issue of criminal justice and police reform to shore up support among the base, none has addressed the importance of tackling police unions and their rules.

    Well, there is the importance of votes and there is the importance of endorsements/donations. Only one of those two things is a given.

    1. The entire political process is averse to addressing police union rules which illustrates the trepidation police unions elicit across the spectrum of open society- which begs me to ponder why the fuck we even call this place ‘open’ anymore? When a free society cannot police its law enforcement this should come as some sort of horrible revelation to those claiming to embrace freedom and democracy.

      1. You’ve elected central planners, and now you have the temerity to complain that they won’t leash the enforcement arm of their central plannings?

        1. I vote rarely because of the reason you adeptly post.

    2. The entire political process is averse to addressing police union rules which illustrates the trepidation police unions elicit across the spectrum of open society- which begs me to ponder why the fuck we even call this place ‘open’ anymore? When a free society cannot police its law enforcement this should come as some sort of horrible revelation to those claiming to embrace freedom and democracy.

      1. I regard the current US of A as neither open nor free, in any meaningful sense of either word.

  6. Many have focused almost exclusively on the racist and racialist aspects of police violence, based on the disproportionate numbers of black people, armed and unarmed, being shot by cops.

    And don’t you dare suggest that race was not the primary motivator rather than perverse incentives, because otherwise you’re denying that black lives matter and might as well be one of those “all lives matter” Klansmen.

    1. Very true. To say ‘all lives matter’ is racist. Only black lives matter.

      1. #MyLifeMatters.

        The rest of you are on your own.

    2. Angel halos grow creepy when awkward conundrums sit like obvious midgets on the shoulders of the social justice trumpeter.

  7. Public safety unions have the best of all situations, at least over the past few decades (fingers crossed that’s changing). As unions, they are natural allies of the Democrats. As enforcers of law and order, they’re natural allies of Republicans (for example, Walker didn’t touch police unions in his anti-union crusade).

  8. Perhaps, just maybe… I’m going out on a limb here, perhaps we should be re-evaluating the FOP? Maybe, we should not be letting an organization that goes above and beyond to protect murderers have the right to lobby the government with government money? Just a thought.

    1. Going against them is political suicide. Heck, it’s probably literal suicide.

      1. Sandra Bland agrees.

  9. I’m pleased as punch with the amount of agile cyborg I’m seeing here.

    1. Did he make a little birdhouse in his soul?

      1. Not to put too fine a point on it, Cyborg’s the only bee in my bonnet.

      2. Yes, and while he’s at it he left the nightlight on inside it.

    2. And he seems to be sober, too.

      1. Agile Cyborg is on my short list of reasonoid I’d like to meet. In a public place. During the day. With plenty of othe people around.

        1. In a public place. During the day. With plenty of othe people around.

          I believe this is implied by “reasonoid I’d like to meet”.

  10. While many Democratic candidate are turning to the issue of criminal justice and police reform to shore up support among the base, none has addressed the importance of tackling police unions and their rules

    Uhh, because tackling the union would be the polar opposite of “shoring up the base”?

  11. Where can I get a contract like that?

  12. I am detecting some hypocrisy here Ed. Reason advocates for due process for young men accused of sexual assault on campus. Getting expelled from university is equivalent to being fired. So, according to Reason, accused cops don’t get due process before being fired, but accused campus rapists do?
    I’m questioning your intellectual integrity here, not advocating for murderers or rapists.
    Reason comes down on one side on the campus sexual assault, and on the other side on cops. You might want to exam your motives and agenda, Ed.
    Convince me I’m wrong, Ed.

    1. Do you think they would advocate an employee being summarily fired for the mere accusation of using illegal drugs?
      I’m not Ed, but you are not wrong.

  13. I’m no fan of unions and can believe the police unions do this, but in this particular case I have to call bullshit on Krayewski. This is as slanted toward a narrative as most stories in the media these days. Why not emphasis that he was unarmed a few more times, Ed? “Victim’s due process rights promised in the Constitution, ignored”? What due process rights do they have in the middle of a scuffle with police? (Or are you one of these types that reads into the Constitution anything he needs to rationalize?) The video showed a scuffle initiated, it seemed, by the “victim’s” violent response to the police officer reaching into the car, and the officer said he fired because the car lurched forward, he was falling and he thought he was about to be run over. Not a good response, sure, but your execution narrative just isn’t going to fly.

    “but it’s not a standard that ought to apply for the mere termination of a police officer’s employment contract”

    That’s exactly the sort of weaselly logic the Left uses to rationalize kangaroo courts on campus. Whether he’s guilty of anything is precisely what’s at issue. If police can simply be fired in circumstances like this, municipalities will always do so on the slightest controversy, because it solves their political problems at someone else’s expense.

    1. “If police can simply be fired in circumstances like this, municipalities will always do so on the slightest controversy, because it solves their political problems at someone else’s expense.”
      And they will have a hard time filling those vacated positions.
      But, if you have read REASON, at all, you will know that the anarchy of zero police presence is the goal.

  14. This “unarmed” meme is getting old. “Umarmed” people kill all the time: by dragging them from cars, by stomping them into the pavement, and etc. Just ask any victim of a flashmob, knockout king or polar bear attack. But these attacks do not fit into the Reason party line of evil cops versus innocent civilians.

    Supposing the convenience store clerk whom Michael Brown pushed around had pulled out a gun and shot him? I take it Reason would have disapproved, given that Brown was an “unarmed teen.” If so, you might as well toss away the Right to Bear Arms, because every time someone fires in self-defense Reason will castigate them.

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