Police Abuse

How San Antonio's Worst Cops Get Their Jobs Back

Thanks to the police union, bad officers don't stay fired for long.

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Matthew Luckhurst of the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) tried to feed a homeless man a sandwich made of dog feces. While Luckhurst was initially fired for such crappy behavior, Reason reported in March 2019 that his employment was fully restored.

Luckhurst was able to rejoin the force following an arbitration hearing required by the collective bargaining agreement the San Antonio Police Officers Association has with the city. Since the department could not prove the exact date of the crap sandwich incident, the department had no choice but to accept that it missed the 180-day window in which it could discipline Luckhurst, and the arbitration panel ruled in Luckhurst's favor.

The San Antonio Current reported this week that Luckhurst's story is not an exception to the rule. Twenty-seven of the 40 SAPD police officers fired between 2010 and 2019 have managed to get their jobs back through arbitration. Only 13 firings were upheld in that entire time.

Other officers who have benefitted from arbitration include an officer fired for using the N-word while arresting a black suspect and an officer who challenged a prisoner to a fistfight in exchange for his freedom.

The union has long erected barriers that make it difficult to keep bad officers off the force. The union once thwarted suggested reforms and then used them to negotiate a substantial pay increase. One of the suggested reforms at the time would have allowed supervisors to consider suspensions older than two years to factor into discipline for new offenses. The union has also called for the resignation of a chief who angered the group by attempting to reform use-of-force policies.

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  1. Gee, what a shocker.
    Union wants more members, and doesn’t care if they’re the good apple or the bad apple type of members.
    I support unionization in principle, but man, these shitty unions don’t cover themselves in glory with stunts like this.

  2. Amazing how 6 months of cop school, half the time it takes to become a barber, confers such benefits.

    1. Amazing! Do barbers still let blood?

  3. Matthew Luckhurst of the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) tried to feed a homeless man a sandwich made of dog feces. While Luckhurst was initially fired for such crappy behavior

    I see what you did there. 🙂

    1. Didn’t exactly take a rocket surgeon to notice that one…

  4. an officer who challenged a prisoner to a fistfight in exchange for his freedom

    In the interest of officer safety, the prisoner was handcuffed at the time.

  5. Twenty-seven of the 40 SAPD police officers fired between 2010 and 2019 have managed to get their jobs back through arbitration.

    You can bet that, during that period of time, maybe five times as many should have been fired.

  6. It’s time to abolish all public-sector unions.

    1. It’s not the unions per se that’s the problem. It’s the special government-back privileges that unions enjoy. Such as exclusivity in collective bargaining. Meaning that no competitive union can arise in competition with the shitty San Antonio police union without voting to decertify and replace.

      1. I don’t see the police voting to decertify their union because it protects them too much.

        1. What if there were multiple competing unions each representing different employees? That isn’t allowed under current law. The employees can only replace one monopolistic union with another monopolistic union. But there can’t be multiple competing unions. THAT’S the problem. Not the unionization per se.

          1. That would be a massive headache for employers to have multiple unions, each with their own contracts and rules, for the same category or worker. If that were the case then the businesses would cry that it is too hard and lobby to weaken all unions event more. So nice try, but no.

  7. How San Antonio’s Worst Cops Get Their Jobs Back

    Well there’s your first mistake – referring to the jobs as theirs. The jobs belong to the San Antonio PD by the grace of the residents of San Antonio, nobody should have a property right to a job except that their employer has granted them such a property right. Public employees – such as police officers – can’t be granted such a right by other public employees such as city councils or mayors and “collective bargaining” between two such groups is a fraud perpetrated upon the public. The factory foreman is not able to just unilaterally take it upon himself to grant the factory workers a pay raise if the factory owner has not agreed to any such thing.

  8. Guys, I say this as someone who prosecutes discipline charges against police officers as a substantial portion of my practice: if San Antonio is losing more than 50% of their termination cases, maybe the City needs better attorneys. A loss rate of over 50% is horrendous.

  9. Since the department could not prove the exact date of the crap sandwich incident, the department had no choice but to accept that it missed the 180-day window in which it could discipline Luckhurst

    See?! *Rule of Law*!!

  10. The union has long erected barriers that make it difficult to keep bad officers off the force.

    It takes two to tango.

  11. Why did the city miss that 180 day window? Does it start when they find out about the incident, or when it happened. In the first case, someone was grossly incompetent in not starting procedures immediately. Fire them. Look at whoever hired them, maybe they should also be fired for incompetence.

    Or does the contract union contract start the clock when the incident happens, so any bad cop that keeps his misbehavior hidden for 180 days is home free? Fire anyone who signed that contract, or reviewed it without warning without that clause, and make it clear that such clauses will never be accepted again.

    And finally, is there something in the contract saying cops can’t be prosecuted for crimes? Using the N-word is not a criminal offense, but the shit sandwich had to violate several laws. If the cop is in jail, he can be fired for being absent from work. If the crime is serious enough, he is also permanently barred from even touching a gun, so he can’t do the job. So find out why he was not prosecuted – and fire those responsible for being soft on crime!

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