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Bad Cops Will Keep Getting Rehired As Long As You Have Powerful Police Unions

There's a simple way to break the cycle, but it's not easy.

Shari De AngeloShari De AngeloA depressingly familiar story in The Washington Post describes how a Philadelphia police officer, Cyrus Mann, was fired after shooting three people within three years, in one case killing an unarmed man by shooting him in the back. He then got his job back, thanks to a union contract that offers a bevy of employment protections, including an arbitration process that effectively reduces the decision to fire an officer to a request.

Since 2008, the Philadelphia Police Department has fired more than 150 cops, of whom at least 88 had been arrested and at least 48 were eventually convicted on charges like murder, rape, and extortion. Seventy-one of those officers tried to get their jobs back, and of those 71, at least 44 were successful.

In reviewing 37 of the nation's largest police departments, including Philadelphia, the Post found that since 2006 at least 451 of about 1,800 fired officers got their jobs back, thanks to provisions in their union contracts. Campaign Zero, an effort of a group of Black Lives Matter activists, tracks union contracts and their content; it finds that such arrangements are guaranteed in some way in virtually each contract they reviewed. That ubiquity makes many efforts at reducing police violence futile. Cities must have the ability to fire cops who are unable to do their jobs without resorting to excessive force.

Mann had been fired after shooting and killing Hassan Pratt in 2012, when Prat ran away from a traffic stop. Ralph Colflesh, the arbitrator who heard the case, told the Post his decision was made in part because "no one could prove that Mann shot him maliciously." Mann had, in fact, fatally shot Pratt, and so was the only witness to the shooting.

The burden of proof required for the government to deprive someone of their liberty should not be the same burden of proof required for the government to fire its own employees. The idea is preposterous but widespread, thanks in large part to the efforts of police unions. Public employee unions produce rules that protect bad actors, by design.

Public employees have a right to associate and assemble, of course. But public unions have the power they enjoy today only because of expansive privileges granted to them by government. Labor unions in the private sector must be careful not to make demands that would make their employers fiscally unsustainable. With public-sector unions, by contrast, the government will always be there for a bailout. And no matter how much a service declines in the public sector, the "customers" often have no other place to go. There is no competitive pressure for institutions like police to be responsive to consumer demands. Single-party rule in most major cities offers additional inoculatation from facing consequences for subpar performance.

Bad cops will keep getting rehired as long as public sector unions are among the most powerful forces in government, setting rules that protect public employees at the expense of the people they're supposed to serve.

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  • KevinP||

    Why are liberal Democrat cities so dangerous and oppressive to minorities?

    Chicago, which has not had a Republican mayor since 1931:

    'Crook County' Author: Judicial System Stacked Against Blacks, Latinos


    Quote:
    Van Cleve documents how minority defendants in Chicago were referred to as "Mopes," a term with the same derogatory intent as the N-word. Fabricated police reports were overlooked.

    Rather than a case of rogue officers and "a few bad apples," Van Cleve presents a searing picture of systemic and deeply entrenched racism - including among defense attorneys. Those within the system who try to fight its defects often risk retaliation and isolation.

    Minority defendants, she writes, were often viewed as objects with no humanity. Van Cleve shows how even members of the public, such as defendants' family members, were routinely disrespected and subjected to humiliation and abuse.
  • FreeSpeechMatters||

    You would never know this from the Reason article above, but Cyrus Mann is black. Mann is the cop who shot three people and killed an unarmed man by shooting him in the back.

    Black cops have higher rates of shooting unarmed people (including unarmed black people) that white cops do.

    Yet Black Lives Matter wants affirmative action in police hiring, which will only result in more unqualified, trigger-happy cops who shoot more civilians.

    Washington DC's heavily-black police department killed more civilians than New York's much-larger mostly-white police force in the 1980s and 1990s. But the New York Times never cared about the former, only the latter. Predominantly black police forces can kill lots of civilians, and few journalist bat an eye about it.

  • retiredfire||

    Firing a black officer also disrupts the "balance" of minorities that all government agencies try to maintain and thus becomes a big incentive to re-hire them if they can.
    And that has nothing to do with police unions, who tried to stop affirmative action programs.

  • BambiB||

    Part of the problem is the prevalence of Mopes like Obozo's "son" Deonte Green. https://www.yahoo.com/news /police-16-old-boy-killed-185339413.html

    I wonder how many cops are infected by the slime from the cesspool they swim in daily? At some point, I think I might reach the point where I'd adopt the Vietnam dictum: "Kill them all. Let god sort them out."

    In other words, "If I'd a knowed it would turn out like this, I'd a picked mah OWN cotton."

  • Lily Bulero||

    "Campaign Zero, an effort of a group of Black Lives Matter activists, tracks union contracts and their content"

    Wait, BLM activists doing useful work?

    Don't they have highways to block or speeches to disrupt? By honing in on actual abuses and promoting realistic solutins, they make the other BLM people look bad.

  • RG||

    I wonder if the NFL anthem protestors would be behind a solution that reduces the power of pubsec unions?

  • ||

    Lily, don't you know you aren't allowed to notice BLM doing anything good around here? They are anti-white racists. You don't want to be called a race traitor do you?

  • Lily Bulero||

    And the U.S. must guarantee to the states a republican form of government.

    How can you have a republican government if the government is negotiating public policy with its own employees and imposing the resulting deals on the public?

  • sarcasmic||

    + 100

  • retiredfire||

    That government you talk of didn't spring up from the ground.
    YOU voted for them.
    They represent the majority of the voters and that majority can rid themselves of them if they want.
    That's how a republican form of government works.
    Don't like the results? Get out there and work for change.

  • Lily Bulero||

    The people of the United States already voted for a Constitution which says the US must guarantee the states a republican form of government.

    But some states are subverting this by abandoning a republican form of government in favor of police unions and unelected arbitrators.

  • Lily Bulero||

    (and apparently fire unions too)

  • ALWAYS RIGHT||

    Instead of worrying about police unions, worry about the 99%. They are submissive, want to please their overlords, love regimentation, don't care about other people, don't read REASON.

  • Jerryskids||

    On the other hand, look at things from the cops' perspective.

  • Lily Bulero||

    We would, but they keep "forgetting" to turn on their body cams.

  • esteve7||

    But... but...

    /insert debunked and logically inconsistent pro union talking point here

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Okay, here you go: WHY DO U WNAT POOR WORKERS TO NOT HAVE FREDEOM TO ORGANIZE THERE LABOR

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Unions keep me from my childhood of dream of being a slave owner. Do you want to crush a child's dreams?

  • Chipper Morning, Mean Girl||

    BUCS's favorite board game is Puerto Rico.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    I thought his favorite board game was going up to the old dudes playing chess in the park and calling them fags.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I don't live in a part of the country where Chess is legal.

  • Brandybuck||

    Unions were formed to protect workers against otherwise unrestrained capitalist firms. Police departments are not capitalist firms.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Hating police is what brings this website together.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Hell, even Tony is on board with the cop-hate portion of Hit'n'Run's itinerary.

  • Chipper Morning, Mean Girl||

    Yewh, but what about Red Tony?

  • sarcasmic||

    Red Tony is a lawyer. A government lawyer. So he gives deference when it is not due.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Notice that he apparently got today off.

  • Memory Hole||

    Humans like to lick boots. It sucks. I have the opposite predilection but most people are subservient types. Land of the free, please. It's probably genetic. We need to find that gene and destroy it.

  • Chipper Morning, Mean Girl||

    You like to lick bare feet? Any particular type?

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Yet ANOTHER crushingly depressing glimpse into Chipper Morning Etc.'s romantic life.

  • Rod Flash||

    Obscuring with statistics:
    -
    "Fired more than 150 cops, of whom at least 88 had been arrested and at least 48 were eventually convicted on charges like murder, rape, and extortion. Seventy-one of those officers tried to get their jobs back, and of those 71, at least 44 were successful."
    -
    It would be much more helpful to know how many of the arrested/and or convicted got their jobs back. If the 44 who got their jobs back came from the 62 or so that were never arrested or convicted, it's probably not such a big deal. It would be nice to know.

  • Galane||

    "Labor unions in the private sector must be careful not to make demands that would make their employers fiscally unsustainable."

    Didn't stop them from destroying so much of American industry. They still believe that companies have endless supplies of money, that 100%+ of the profits should go to employee wages. A never repeated live news broadcast of a union picket of Southwest Airlines had a guy waving his sign, saying "I don't care if Southwest goes bankrupt!". The TV station originating the broadcast quickly cut back to the studio and didn't repeat that segment on the 10 PM news.

    Hockey fans will remember the year without a season when the players union's salary demands were so high the league wouldn't have had enough left to pay expenses. The owners simply picked up their puck and went home.

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