Police Union Privileges, Officer Misconduct and Systems Thinking

In Police Union Privileges I explained how union contracts and police bill of rights give police officers privileges not afforded to regular people. What differences do these privileges make? A new paper, The Effect of Collective Bargaining Rights on Law Enforcement: Evidence from Florida, suggests that police union privileges significantly increase the rate of officer misconduct:

Growing controversy surrounds the impact of labor unions on law enforcement behavior. Critics
allege that unions impede organizational reform and insulate officers from discipline for
misconduct. The only evidence of these effects, however, is anecdotal. We exploit a quasi-experiment in Florida to estimate the effects of collective bargaining rights on law enforcement
misconduct and other outcomes of public concern. In 2003, the Florida Supreme Court’s
Williams
decision extended to county deputy sheriffs collective bargaining rights that municipal police
officers had possessed for decades. We construct a comprehensive panel dataset of Florida law
enforcement agencies starting in 1997, and employ a difference-in-difference approach that
compares sheriffs’ offices and police departments before and after
Williams. Our primary result is
that collective bargaining rights lead to about a 27% increase in complaints of officer misconduct
for the typical sheriff’s office. This result is robust to the inclusion of a variety of controls. The
time pattern of the estimated effect, along with an analysis using agency-specific trends, suggests
that it is not attributable to preexisting trends. The estimated effect of
Williams is not robustly
significant for other potential outcomes of interest, however, including the racial and gender
composition of agencies and training and educational requirements.

This is important research but although I’m not surprised that collective bargaining rights lead to more misconduct I do find the size of the effect implausibly large. One reason is that police union privileges are only one brick in the blue wall. Juries, for example, often fail to convict police even when faced with video evidence that would be overwhelming in any other context [e.g. Philando Castile]. Police union privileges are unjust and should be abolished but solving the problems with policing requires more than a change in naked incentives.

To solve this problem we need to adopt the same kind of systems wide thinking that has led to large reductions in fatal accidents in anesthesiology, airplane crashes, and nuclear accidents. Criminologist Lawrence Sherman writes:

The central point Perrow (1984) made in defining the concept of system accidents is that the
urge to blame individuals often obstructs the search for organizational solutions. If a system-crash
perspective can help build a consensus that many dimensions of police systems need to be changed
to reduce unnecessary deaths (not just but certainly including firing or prosecuting culpable shooting officers), police and their constituencies might start a dialog over the details of which system
changes to make. That dialog could begin by describing Perrow’s central hypothesis that the interactive complexity of modern systems is the main target for reform. From the 1979 nuclear power
plant near-meltdown at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania to airplane and shipping accidents,
Perrow shows how the post-incident reviews rarely identify the true culprit: It is the complexity of
the high-risk systems that causes extreme harm. Similarly, fatal police shootings shine the spotlight
on the shooter rather than on the complex organizational processes that recruited, hired, trained,
supervised, disciplined, assigned, and dispatched the shooter before anyone faced a split-second
decision to shoot.

Comments

'I explained how union contracts and police bill of rights give police officers privileges not afforded to regular people'

Oddly, the sort of privileges associated with tenure and faculty handbook are also not afforded to regular people either.

(For anyone interested, here is a PDF link to the workplace conditions all GMU faculty are subject to - http://www.gmu.edu/resources/facstaff/handbook/GMU_FACULTY_HANDBOOK.pdf Including an entire section concerning this - 2.11.2 93B Grievances - sounds suspiciously like the sort of thing that could be found in a union contract.)

You annoy me

Indeed, 'regular people' here seems to mean people who do not have an employment contract. But most jobs are without an employment contract so all that is being said here is that working under an employment contract is different (and in many ways better) than working as an 'at will' employer.

"Similarly, fatal police shootings shine the spotlight on the shooter rather than on the complex organizational processes that recruited, hired, trained, supervised, disciplined, assigned, and dispatched the shooter before anyone faced a split-second decision to shoot."

Yes. Insane SWAT raids to serve drug warrants seem almost designed to produce casualties (which, of course, they do on a regular basis):

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/03/18/us/forced-entry-warrant-drug-raid.html

And training? Cops need to be trained NOT to put themselves in a position where they feel compelled to shoot. This cop could have retreated, he could have kept the squad car between himself and the guy with the knife instead of shooting him dead within seconds of arriving on the scene:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZRUqgDBTt8

"Cops need to be trained NOT to put themselves in a position where they feel compelled to shoot."

Staying in the donut shop accomplishes that well.

"This cop could have retreated, he could have kept the squad car between himself and the guy with the knife"

Yes, the cops run away when the guy pulls out a knife, that's of kind of polity I want to live in.

Not run away. Back away. Keep the squad car between cop and suspect. You'll notice that the guy had been wandering around with a knife for some time with unarmed civilians watching and *nobody* got hurt. And then the cop car shows up and within a few seconds the guy with the knife is dead on the ground with multiple gunshot wounds. It didn't have to happen that way. Get out on the other side of the car. Don't aim the gun at him immediately. Talk to him. Shoot him with a taser first. Do the things that you'd do if you were trying to avoid shooting the guy rather than looking for an excuse to pull the trigger.

He was brandishing a deadly weapon on a public street. He lunged at two police officers with that weapon.

The police did nothing wrong.

He didn't 'lunge' -- he merely walked toward them. He was obviously mentally disturbed -- perhaps the best approach to such a person isn't to come screeching to a halt a few yards away, jump out, and draw your weapon in a place with no margin for error -- where you'll feel compelled to blast away if the suspect doesn't obey the first instruction immediately.

Bob, leave aside your moral view on whether it was okay to kill the person or not. The question is, could the cops have taken reasonable measures to avoid it ending like that? Your reply doesn't address any of the points Slocum raised.

There's a vast range of outcomes from similar circumstances, in even US policing, that suggests a major problem here. Some US forces are good at managing violent or potentially violent situations, on par with the best Europeans. But others are simply stupid escalations or mismanagement which leads to unnecessary death. And even when lethal force has been called for, firearms discipline and use has too often been poor with too many bystanders hurt.

It's not about pointing fingers or getting at the police. We accept they mean well overall. As Tyler says, a systemic assessment of the situation suggests improvement in cop selection, training, and doctrine could greatly improve outcomes in line with best practise (of which America has some excellent examples).

How much drivel can someone possibly squeeze into one post?

First, the "privileges" of police are available to "regular people" if they have a strong collective bargaining agreement. The problem isnt cops. The problem is unions. But as I said in the prior post, these "privileges" are all consistent with due process. Sure, they give the guilty accused time and information to cook up a story. But it also gives the innocent accused an opportunity to respond.

No video evidence "overwhelmingly" convicted the officer in the Philando Castile case. The video clearly showed a communication mishap, but the crucial part was missing: video of Castile reaching (or not reaching) into an unobserved location. Only the police officer saw that. The officer faced a gross negligence standard which is very difficult to prove. Assuming Castile did reach for his wallet, the officer reasonably said "Don't reach for it" more than once before firing and had a reasonable belief Castile was reaching for a gun. Even if you think "it" was unclear to poor Castile, this doesn't rise to a gross negligence standard, at least in that jury's eyes. Had the jury returned a guilty verdict, I would have been OK with that too. But this verdict was by no means outrageous or unfair.

Finally, there is no systemic cause for any of the high profile police shootings. Most were justified and those that weren't were prosecuted. There were zero errors given available information. Zero. That's actually quite remarkable.

'if they have a strong collective bargaining agreement'

And even if they don't, when working at a public university in the Commonwealth of Virginia as a member of the faculty.

"Assuming Castile did reach for his wallet, the officer reasonably said “Don’t reach for it” more than once before firing and had a reasonable belief Castile was reaching for a gun."

The right of an officer to shoot a suspect arises from the right to self-defense and the defense of others, which is a universal right. If an individual's belief that another person has a weapon, is reaching for the weapon, and will use the weapon against the individual, is justification for killing that person, then any police encounter in which an officer reaches for his weapon is an encounter in which killing the police officer is justified. The only ways around this are to 1. admit that this justification for self-defense is not legitimate, but has instead been proffered as a cynical legal and PR strategy, or 2. argue that justice is derived not by logic and principles but by jury decisions, and that juries will treat certain classes of people differently given identical underlying facts.

Personally, given the glib attitudes for police killings that most often expressed by police officers both on the internet and in statements to media, I hope that the new reality of split-second police killings gives rise to a movement of reciprocal self-defense among the would-be victims of police killings. This isn't because I want police officers to be killed, on the contrary, I hope this so that these flag-vandalizing, lifted truck driving, 'operators' are forced to face their dishonesty and come to agreement that self-defense requires more than feelings.

Many self defense scenarios come down to circumstantial evidence, particularly when one party is dead. For example, we have only one party's account on the killing of Trayvon Martin. But there was enough circumstantial evidence to believe Zimmermans account, ie cuts on the back of Zimmermans head and an eyewitness identifying Trayvon on top.

In the Castile case, we have a lot more evidence, and it mostly supports the officers story. The officer didn't shoot Castile the moment he said he had a gun. The officer said "Don't reach for it" twice.

It was a tragic shooting that angered most concealed carrying citizens. But it isn't at all clear that this officer was grossly negligent. For better or worse, and I think better, the burden of proof falls on the prosecution.

Unlike the average citizen, police officers move TOWARD dangerous situations. You cannot hold police officers to the same standard as ordinary citizens. Recall that Castile was pulled over as a robbery suspect. Given that fact, the police officer was exceedingly calm after Castile told him he was armed. A reasonable police officer could have and probably should have proned him out.

Reciprocal force is BS. Citizens do not have a right to resist arrest, even an unlawful arrest. The rule is Comply Now, Complain Later. But supposing an extreme circumstance of criminal police behavior, by all means defend yourself. You will have a chance to exonerate yourself in court, but you do so at your own peril. This has always been the law for responding to unlawful orders.

You cannot hold police officers to the same standard as ordinary citizens.

No, we should hold them to a higher standard, precisely because they are granted special privileges and are tasked with the protection of the populace, not themselves. They job is to assume risk so that innocent private citizens are not exposed to it. If the cops are creating risk rather than taking it on themselves, then something is wrong.

"If an individual’s belief that another person has a weapon, is reaching for the weapon, and will use the weapon against the individual, is justification for killing that person, then any police encounter in which an officer reaches for his weapon is an encounter in which killing the police officer is justified."

Only if the person has a reasonable belief that the officer will shoot and the person is not attacking someone else's person or property, in which case their right of self defense is forfeited.

"The right of an officer to shoot a suspect arises from the right to self-defense and the defense of others"

I suppose "arises" is correct but the use of force by police is far broader than for a non-police citizen. There is no duty to retreat for instance.

"a movement of reciprocal self-defense among the would-be victims of police killings"

No downside to that.

There is a key piece of information almost never discussed when it comes to cops shooting civilians: How many cops are shot by civilians each year?

It is a much more problematic situation if police shoot far more innocent people than people shoot cops. On the other hand, if cops are dropping like flies and the occasional civilian is accidentally killed, that would tell us cops are operating in a high threat environment and trying very hard to make reasonable snap decisions. We can’t expect an error rate of zero.

And you can’t look at national numbers unless officer involved accidental shootings are evenly distributed across the nation. But they aren’t: they are occuring primarily in high crime areas where officers are nervous and full of adrenaline when they have to interact with the people.

And when cops start getting assassinated while just sitting in their cars or walking a beat, as 21 police officers were murdered in 2016, you can expect the problem to get worse.

I don’t doubt there are problems with police brutality and poor training. But the issue is more complex than BLM would have you believe.

First, the “privileges” of police are available to “regular people” if they have a strong collective bargaining agreement.

Really? Let me quote some Ken White

Cops routinely start investigations based on hearsay tips from informants. Cops even take action based on wholly anonymous and uncorroborated informants. But when it comes to themselves, cops demand a sworn statement from a witness with direct knowledge:

For instance, cops routinely lie about the scope of their investigation. But for them:

(2) Before an interrogation, the law enforcement officer under investigation shall be informed in writing of the nature of the investigation.

Cops routinely seek to interview subjects at times and places that will unsettle them and increase the chance of getting ill-considered statements. But for them:

(f) Time of interrogation.- Unless the seriousness of the investigation is of a degree that an immediate interrogation is required, the interrogation shall be conducted at a reasonable hour, preferably when the law enforcement officer is on duty.

(g) Place of interrogation.-

(1) The interrogation shall take place:

(i) at the office of the command of the investigating officer or at the office of the local precinct or police unit in which the incident allegedly occurred, as designated by the investigating officer; or

(ii) at another reasonable and appropriate place.

Cops routinely avoid recording interrogation sessions. This allows them to claim that the suspect confessed without contradiction and conceal their interrogation techniques. But for themselves:

(k) Record of interrogation.-

(1) A complete record shall be kept of the entire interrogation, including all recess periods, of the law enforcement officer.

etc https://www.popehat.com/2015/04/29/cops-we-need-rights-more-than-you-citizen/

Now, what union can I join that is strong enough to get me these special rights?

Laying aside the criticism of the Officer, the problem is that such a crisis situation should never have occurred. Even if we grant that he was "reaching for his wallet" (testimony is conflicted?) Castile's life should _not_ have depended on responding correctly to a split-second warning from a cop who may, or may not, have been entirely in control of himself.

This is part of Tyler's critique; we're focussed too much of the last few seconds of disaster, BUT this is often unfruitful for preventing recurrences. We should really be analysing everything that happened before. Like an air accident investigation.

"Finally, there is no systemic cause for any of the high profile police shootings. Most were justified and those that weren’t were prosecuted. There were zero errors given available information. Zero. That’s actually quite remarkable."

Someone has quite the taste for Kiwi.

Of course law enforcement officers and health care providers circle the wagons when one of their own is alleged to have made a mistake or committed misconduct or negligence. I'm pleased that Tabarrok has come around to the view that it isn't all about "unions"; after all. doctors rarely if ever are part of a "union", a union of fellow physicians but not the type of organized association we think of as a "union". In the South, "unions" are blamed for all manner of social and economic problems, but when a law enforcement officer is alleged to have made a mistake or committed misconduct or negligence, the public almost always sides with the officer notwithstanding "union" support for the officer. In the health care context, studies have shown that an acknowledgment of error would greatly reduce the number of malpractice cases and the amount of awards sought. I suspect the number of allegations of police brutality would also be greatly reduced if law enforcement would simply acknowledge error. The first step to rehabilitation is to acknowledge one's own error. Blaming "unions" is just an effort to blame someone else for one's own fault.

Why do we have to choose? Why can't both an individual who did wrong and and organization that protects that individual be part of the problem?

... is our American criminal justice SYSTEM set up to judge individuals or the system/circumstances that produced them ?

Are accused lawbreakers judged on their personal actions alone or are larger circumstances of their upbringining, socio-economic status, emploers, etc. important factors ?

The key problem with cops is that the formal American justice system does not apply the same rules-of-law to police/LEO's that it aggressively applies to other Americans. This represents core corruption by government judges and prosecutors across the nation, de facto sanctioned by government legislators and executives. Government enforcers operate outside the law in order to maximize their control of the public and sustain overall government power over the populace.

I don't have time to read the whole paper, but I don't find the effect implausibly large on its face.

There are two different effects probably going on here:

1) Changes in officer behavior. If police have more job protections, they may not behave as well.

2) Changes in personnel management. If it is harder to fire police, management might not try to fire officers until they become a bigger problem. And once they do attempt to fire them, it will take longer because of the more involved processes imposed by collective bargaining. So "problem" officers who generate complaints will stick around longer, generating more complaints.

The second effect would likely to cause complaints to go up even if the collective bargaining rights didn't incentivize different officer behavior. And it might be quite a large effect, especially if a small percentage of employees cause a large portion of the complaints.

"suggests that police union privileges significantly increase the rate of officer misconduct:"

We needed a study to conclude that reducing consequences increases the incidents of misconduct?

Yes, we did.

Even though the general relationship is obvious, it's does not follow from that that every particular change in the level and type of consequence will have a significant effect, and if so, how much of an effect it will have.

The size of the effect is important, since giving collective bargaining rights to officers also has some benefits, and the benefit needs to be weighed against the cost of the policy.

This particular issue is hotly debated, with no consensus on whether such union rights are a good thing. Even if it is obvious to you that this was a bad idea, having actual evidence about the topic might be useful to engage with people who don't share your political views.

---- "The central point Perrow (1984) made in defining the concept of system accidents... the search for organizational solutions"

Pondering "system" accidents and "organizational" solutions ... requires one to first define the system/organization under study. Is it a police union, specific police department, city/county/state/national government, general justice system, legal structure, general population ???

Define the "problem" exactly ... before chasing solutions.

In general, I am agnostic on unions. They are most powerful when they can force an employer to share monopoly profits and the union goes down with the ship when the monopoly loses its monopoly power. (And yes the union may contribute to the failure of a company that can no longer afford to pay the "monopoly" wages but finds it too difficult to restructure.) Government sector unions are a special case since because normal market conditions don't apply.

However, I do understand the desire for a police union. The political nature of police forces leaves individual officers subject to political winds. Look at the Freddie Gray case in Baltimore or the Michael Brown case in Ferguson. In both cases, the police were potential victims of mob justice. Politicians were more than willing to toss the involved officers to the mob in an attempt to gain political favor.

In most police departments it is not the unions that protect the bad officers but their political sponsors. Cries of racial, sexual orientation, or whatever bias can possibly be applied will be used to defend bad cops. Both mostly it is the political cover that protects bad cops.

Civilian complaints regarding police officers increase with aggressive policing. If the police think they have their backs protected they will do more police work, more aggressive police work. If they feel that they must cover their own asses they will go "fetal" and reduce police work and be less aggressive. Police officers in Chicago and Baltimore have increasingly gone fetal. The result has been increasing crime and murder rates. One rather small community on the west side of Chicago saw more murders last year than United States military fatalities.

Civilian complaints are a poor proxy for the quality of police work.

If you want to reduce the number of fatal surgeries, make surgery available only to those patients likely to have a good outcome. If you want to reduce civilian complaints against police officers, have a less proactive police department. Your numbers will look better, at least the numbers of the things you are measuring will improve. If that is what you want.

If the police think they have their backs protected they will do more police work, more aggressive police work.

That's your opinion and there are no facts to support it. One could just as well make the case that collectively cops are happy about police-inflected fatalities because it demonstrates to the general public that failing to immediately follow a police order can result in death.

Data is pretty easy to find actually.

“In 2015 officers made 15,623 fewer arrests. The numbers dropped from 128,730 arrests in 2014, to 113,107 in 2015. That’s an average of 1300 fewer arrests every month.”

“There also has been a 37 percent decline in gun arrests and a 35 percent decrease in gun confiscations compared to last year, according to police data.”

“In the first 11 days of the year, officers filed just 3,916 investigative stop reports compared to 16,698 during the same time period last year, according to police data.”

“Chicago shootings up nearly 200 percent in 2016”
http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/blog/chicago-cops-new-motto-stay-fetal

"The “no-snitch” ethic of refusing to cooperate with the cops is the biggest impediment to solving crime, according to Chicago commanders. But the Black Lives Matter narrative about endemically racist cops has made the street dynamic much worse. A detective says: “From patrol to investigation, it’s almost an undoable job now. If I get out of my car, the guys get hostile right away and several people are taping [with cellphones].”

Bystanders and suspects try to tamper with crime scenes and aggressively interfere with investigations. Additional officers may be needed during an arrest to keep angry onlookers away. “It’s very dangerous out there now,” a detective tells me."

https://nypost.com/2016/07/09/how-the-ferguson-effect-is-destroying-chicago/

“The major thing you hear from Chicago cops,” Eugene O’Donnell, a former N.Y.P.D. officer and prosecutor for the Brooklyn and Queens District Attorneys, who is now a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said this week, “is to stay fetal—go fetal, stay fetal.” Arrests were down twenty-eight per cent this past year.

In Chicago, especially, you can see the stress. The suicide rate among officers there is sixty per cent higher than the national average for law enforcement—which is already higher than that of the general population. “It is the stress of the job,” one of the department’s mental-health counselors concluded, “that is the precursor to the crisis.”

"I lived in Baltimore when Freddie Gray died in police custody, in April, 2015, and during the protests and riots that followed, when the police retreated into a position that Emanuel might have called “fetal.” Churches organized patrols to keep neighborhoods safe. Rival gang leaders held a meeting to talk about how to protect neighborhoods that the cops had abandoned. Arrests plummeted; homicides rose to levels not seen since the nineties, and the murder rate has stayed high since. Anthony Batts, who was Baltimore’s police chief during the crisis and who was subsequently fired, lamented in September, 2015, that in the days after Gray’s killing his police “took a knee.”

In an exchange with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Emanuel summed up the sentiments of many politicians and police commanders in the room. He said a fear of being the next face on the 6 o’clock news had prompted officers in Chicago and across the country to become “fetal” and not risk engagements with the public that could become viral video sensations.

Just become informed Mr Martel

If your theory is correct then the solution is to fire all Chicago police. Try to imagine any other employer. Bank employees don't like the new ATMs so they start coming up 35% short in their drawers each month. That doesn't end with management changing the ATMs, it ends with every teller and manager being fired and new crews being brought in. Your theory is that police essentially conspired with criminals to stage an increase in crime as a protest against...what exactly? Body cameras? Keep in mind nothing happened to the police except protests.

In an exchange with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Emanuel summed up the sentiments of many politicians and police commanders in the room. He said a fear of being the next face on the 6 o’clock news had prompted officers in Chicago and across the country to become “fetal” and not risk engagements with the public that could become viral video sensations.

How strange. So you are saying police can essentially put their foot on a crime gas pedal or break by choosing to be aggressive or passive in going after criminals. They are sort of like a Federal Reserve of crime. So then why these questionable shootings that seem to have nothing to do with actually stopping real criminals? If cops control the crime rate by being aggressive then why do viral videos only show up when they are dealing with non-criminals or people who do not appear to be the type of criminals that drive the murder rate? Shouldn't the viral videos show up with cops dealing with 'hard core' types?

An alternative explanation....Chicago is an outlier, a blip that just happened to go up around the time of some high profile protests so some people felt it was an easy correlation to claim causation. Unfortunately for this theory, crime didn't go up cross the nation and it remains much lower than it was in even the recent past. Did only cops in Chicago notice the protests? Why did cops allow such high crime years ago when there were fewer protests? The more likely answer is that they didn't.

Boonton

You are right, I am wrong. Take all the police off the street and you will see no change in crime rates. Why are you the first to think of this great idea?

Cops spend their day wandering around looking for people to shoot. We will all be safer without them.

Fire all the police officers and then maintain the same counterproductive environment but expect better results. The 12,000 officers you hired were obviously defective but the system works.

They have the same problem in Baltimore.

"It’s important to note that the FBI reported a 7% increase in the violent crime rate between 2014 and 2016, including a 20% rise in the murder rate —from 4.4 to 5.3 murders per 100,000 residents."

The FBI’s data show big differences from state to state and city to city. In 2016, there were more than 600 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in Alaska, Nevada, New Mexico and Tennessee. By contrast, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont had rates below 200 violent crimes per 100,000 residents. And while Chicago has drawn widespread attention for its soaring murder total in recent years, its murder rate in 2016 – 28 murders and non-negligent manslaughters per 100,000 residents – was less than half of the rate in St. Louis (60 per 100,000) and far below the rate of Baltimore (51 per 100,000). The FBI notes that various factors might influence a particular area’s crime rate, including its population density and economic conditions.
In its annual survey, BJS asks victims of crime whether they reported that crime to police. In 2016, only 42% of the violent crime tracked by BJS was reported to police. And in the much more common category of property crime, only about a third (36%) was reported. There are a variety of reasons crime might not be reported, including a feeling that police “would not or could not do anything to help” or that the crime is “a personal issue or too trivial to report,” according to BJS.

Most of the crimes that are reported to police, meanwhile, are not solved, at least using an FBI measure known as the “clearance rate.” That’s the share of cases each year that are closed, or “cleared,” through the arrest, charging and referral of a suspect for prosecution. In 2016, police nationwide cleared 46% of violent crimes that were reported to them. For property crimes, the national clearance rate was 18%.

So the drop in crime rate is because people increasingly don't even report it. And survey data that show a drop in crime is still in conflict with FBI data.

Crimes aren't "cleared" because increasingly police just take reports, a culture against snitching, but ignore that things will get better if we get rid of the police.

I suspect this is a topic on which intuition or priors might not be that useful in making estimates of likely effects. Collective bargaining can have pervasive impacts on the operation of a personnel system, and one important goal of police unions is clearly to reduce accountability. As someone with substantial experience in both the private sector and a unionized public sector environment, my experience is that the low end of the performance bar can be quite low in the latter (in terms of non-productive or dysfunctional behavior), and performing any formal discipline can become a big freakin' deal that you better think about three times before attempting. Incentives or rewards for good performance are also strongly muted. A proxy for bad behavior only went up by a quarter? My personal intuition is surprised it's that low, and I would think that long-term effects could grow. But I don't fully trust anyone's intuition here, including my own.

I wonder if

Police Union privilege

Is Related to

Koch Political Contribution Privilege.

We seem to ignore what campaign contributions can get you.

I wonder

If I shall ever read

comments from

a bigger imbecile

then thee

You can't take the heat or the analogy.

Wasted, What's the difference between a cop who is influenced by the Police Benevolence Association sticker I have on my car and a regulator who is appointed by a President whose cozy to a political contributor who gives a call to the regulator.

The Kochs are NOT Trump supporters.

Hazel, Did you check recently about Pence and the appointments recommended by the Kochs. Their position was before Trump was elected. If you want some links, I would be glad to provide as well as links re Koch lobbyists placed in the administration.

If there is a relationship, it is an inverse one.

This sounds to me like a description of The Wire. If I were to summarize that show's themes, it would be something like, "The power of institutions, and the ways in which institutional incentives corrupt the people whose lives are affected by them."

You can't change the behavior without changing the institutions.

Sigh,

Again, Alex points out police privileges (union and otherwise) and again, a contingent comes out to dispute with what I believe are very weak talking points. Here goes again:

1) "It's not the cops, it's the unions." Evades the point: no private sector business could grant similar union protections to its workforce and expect to stay in business (hence the inexorable shrinking of the unionized workforce).

2) Police protections are comparable to protections afforded elsewhere in the civil service. Perhaps in some cases, but: a) those protections are most problematic when afforded the branch of the government that applies lethal force, b) the police fight most tenaciously for their privileges, which is why (for example) even Scott Walker in Wisconsin left the police alone when he reduced public sector union privileges, and c) civil service protections generally have reached an absurd point when (to pick an example this week) the Hawaiian state employee who sort-of, kind-of triggered a statewide missile alert not only still has a job, but is refusing to cooperate with the investigation and still has a job. I can't see how this level of protection is in the public interest.

3) "Police need extra protection because otherwise they are subject to mob justice." This is absurd--in neither of the cases cited (in Ferguson or Baltimore) were the officers convicted of a crime, and so the criminal justice system functioned as it should (accepting the premise that the officers were innocent). And one reason for public demand for prosecution of police officers is that in a unionized police force it seems as hard to fire an officer as it is to convict one, i.e, the police are unwilling to accept the existence of an administrative standard of conduct that is higher than the criminal one. And given the continued instance of innocent people being convicted through dubious means like jailhouse snitches, or interrogations ending in false confessions, the idea that law enforcement, uniquely, needs protection from criminal charges is completely unwarranted.

4) One of the commenters here has referenced the "Ferguson Effect" in which police "go fetal" whilst being criticized. This is the most dramatic example of the effect of police job protection I could imagine. In no other industry could an entire workforce boast of doing as little as possible while continuing to draw salary and awaiting pension. In any private company such a workforce would have been laid off en masse. The "Ferguson Effect" is therefore not proof of the need for police job protection, but evidence of their pernicious effect.

Your criticisms of the criticisms are based on a facile presentation (or understanding) of facts and law.

1. Workers are the union. The union is the workers. This is true in every case. Of course they fight for themselves, and they do so based on the idiosyncratic circumstances of their jobs. In other words, police aren't "privileged," they are DIFFERENT. In no private sector job can you face federal civil rights charges at the same time you face job termination and criminal charges. And many other collective bargaining agreements DO have extraordinary job protection. You're asserting, without proof, that cops have it better.

2. No, those protections are most NECESSARY when your job requires you to use force. Hint: Boxers and pro football players don't get charged with assault. Without such protections, every time a cop laid hands on a person he would risk losing his job by doing his job. And every one of these protections is consistent with due process. A person charged with a crime would have all these protections and more. Unlike the private sector, public employees have a property interest in their employment. This is the law, not just something cops bargained for.

3. Again, when your job and your life REQUIRES you to do things that can easily be a criminal or civil offense under the wrong circumstances as viewed by the wrong group of people, extra protection is warranted. My job doesn't require me to manhandle or shoot people, as much as I sometimes wish it did.

I've prosecuted and convicted cops. It does happen. In Ferguson the cops were clearly justified. In Baltimore, it's sad they probably got away with crime, but the prosecution messed up badly.

4. Apparently you don't know government very well. There are people who haven't done any real work for years. Cops are working merely by driving around. And the Ferguson Effect has more to do with management decisions than the rank and file. It's typically to calm tensions. Again, the public sector and private sector are different. Cops aren't evaluated by daily production quotas, and their actions are not strongly correlated with output. When you look at how sparsely cops are deployed on any given set of city streets, it's clear the deterrent effect of their arms reach isn't very strong, and working "harder" doesn't really affect crime rates much, or working easier as the case may be.

I'm sure we could agree on reforms. I'm sympathetic to most of your sentiments. But you are giving short shrift to the substantive differences of police work from every other job, including all other public jobs.

Ed, Ed, Eddy.

I will take a deep breath and explain slowly. You should read Alex’s link to Mr. Sherman, iir doesn’t quite agree with you. Ie Bad Apple cops are not the problem, institutional problems are the root cause. Go ahead read it. I’ll wait.

A long history of political abuses of the rights of police officers forced them to form unions to ensure due process. Plus police are subject to more severe criminal penalties then ordinary citizens. They are often punished more severely by courts. And incarceration is much more dangerous. So let’s stop this silly talk about cops getting away with things and don’t face punishment. They can also face civil penalties that can destroy their families. The fact they join unions and fight for protections against a legal and political system, not to mention citizens like you, who are often hostile to them shouldn’t be a surprise.

You argue that the justice system is fickle and corrupt and then condemn officers who seek to protect themselves. Cops are a link in the chain subject to more potential abuse then average citizens because they are in the front lines everyday. Or is the fact that doctors buy malpractice insurance and practice defensive medicine a sign of their moral depravity.

Baltimore did show how a politician will seek to destroy police officers and throw them to the mob. The fact that the union helped assure due process is in complete opposition to your argument. The union forced a judicial review.

As far as going fetal, if you want a passive police force that is what you get. Don’t blame the police for doing what you demand

They are often punished more severely by courts.

As in this sickening affair: https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/10/26/oakland-police-sex-scandal-man-has-to-face-pimping-charges/ Or this one: http://nailheadtom.blogspot.com/2018/01/photographs-of-evil-people.html

Are you that dense? Police officers sometimes work undercover. The need to protect their identity protects them and civilians that they may have worked with. The courts and society have recognized this repeatedly because it is common sense. Or do you want criminals to have the home address of the police who arrest them? The names of the schools their children attend? You are an ass.

Police officers commit crimes. Politicians commit crimes. School teachers commit crimes. Clergy commit crimes. Soldiers commit crimes. Supervisors at auto plants commit crimes. Brain dead bloggers commit crimes. Human beings are flawed. Hatred for the police seems to have blinded you to reality.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_American_police_officers_killed_in_the_line_of_duty

Want to do something about bad police in Oakland

http://www2.oaklandnet.com/government/o/OPD/index.htm

BTW Anne E Kirkpatrick good luck with her

Isn't it interesting that a country that sent a man to the moon and back 49 years ago still employs 14th century technology that involves using a rapid chemical reaction to drive a metal pellet through the body of someone who doesn't obey the commands of a government employee. The technological improvement in the process is that many such pellets can be driven through the body in a matter of seconds and often are.

According to you, objecting to the unnecessary shooting and deaths of suspects, not convicts, as well as brutality and lawlessness on the part of those employed to uphold the law, is "hatred for the police". Evidently, they're above reproach. If this were so, they wouldn't need to be defended by you or anyone else.

As a parting shot (and in rejoinder to those who've taken issue with my last post), I'll reference this article: https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-police-unions/. If it won't change your mind, at least you might understand why the current state of police union protection is not self-evidently justified to a lot of citizens. It's not 1935 anymore, and we're no longer talking about imposing some light civil service protection on a Tammany-Hall style patronage machine. Instead, we're talking about procedures designed to make officer discipline nearly impossible, and often meaningless when it occurs.

I'll also close with a tale of two cops (or ex-cops) from two cities, one from a city with max. union and other protection, and other from a city with (apparently) very little of such protection. Exhibit 1 is Jerome Finnigan, formerly one of Chicago's finest, and now a guest of the state for various corrupt-cop activities, including trying to take out a hit on a former officer. The warning signs were there--the guy had racked up 157 citizen complaints--but that apparently doesn't crease the career of a Chicago cop. Perhaps a system that allowed him to be discharged from CPD at (say) 30 citizen complaints--before he tried to murder a fellow cop--might have been an improvement. Exhibit 2 is Roy Oliver, formerly a Balch Springs, Texas officer and now awaiting trial for murder for shooting an unarmed kid. He may or may not be convicted--and he's certainly entitled to criminal due process safeguards--but he is not drawing taxpayer salary pursuant to paid suspended leave pending commencement of a lengthy administrative proceeding that can only start when the criminal process is over. Instead, he was fired a few days after the shooting. By his Chief, who decided that whether or not he was a felon, he ought not to be a cop.

I am frankly baffled by those who consider the Chicago Way to be the superior public policy in this comparison.

About Finnigan

"Prosecutors, who spent five years investigating the SOS scandal, acknowledged that Finnigan was at one point an outstanding officer. But he became a "cautionary tale" for all police officers, who are among the most powerful public officials, said assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Netols."

When the SOS allegations surfaced five years ago, Finnigan was considered the ringleader of a group of officers who between 2002 and 2006 targeted people -- most of them drug dealers -- for robberies to seize drugs and money. The officers pocketed the cash.

The SOS was disbanded in 2007 amid what became an unusually long investigation by the Cook County state's attorney's office and the U.S. attorney's office.

Both state and federal investigators tried to find out from Finnigan and others whether any supervisors knew about the criminal behavior. But the probe failed to go any higher.

BTW all the accused worked the same watch shift under the command of a LT who pushed for big numbers. The LT had, some claim, enough political clout to walk away untouched. Had nothing to do with the union, This crew created havoc for drug dealers in Chicago and because bosses liked what they were doing, institutional safeguards started to be ignored. Again nothing to do with the union. IAD investigators were, it apppears, in part blocked by excempt officers. This had nothing to do with police union protection. It was about the failure of institutional safeguards. And he is sitting in jail.

Sorry, but those are the facts.

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