June 5, 2020
GUEST POST from our friends at Unbiased America.
Since 2006, at least 1,881 police officers have been fired from 37 of the nation’s largest departments for misconduct of various types. Yet in nearly a quarter (451) of those cases, departments were forced to reinstate the fired officers after appeals required by union contracts.
By making it harder to remove officers who engage in misconduct, police union contracts can perpetuate that behavior within departments.
Indeed a 2018 study found that unionization increased violent misconduct incidents committed by a department by 40%. And union contracts often place restrictions on the measures available to address misconduct. For example, it’s written into many police union contracts that investigators are not allowed to question officers who’ve been involved in a shooting until days after the event. And many police departments essentially allow officers to collaborate on a use-of-force report and permit officers to view bodycam recordings before writing a report to “get the story straight.”
Another way that unions shield their members from oversight is by making it difficult to investigate complaints. In Portland, Oregon, for example, a 2012 Justice Department investigation revealed that two-thirds of complaints were dismissed without inquiry because they could not pass the hurdles set up by the union rules to even begin an investigation. And those that did get investigated were subject to a six-tier review process that took more than a year to complete. Very few complaints were ever resolved.
Such rules are not isolated to a few departments, unfortunately. A study of police union contracts in 81 of America's 100 largest cities found: