Are Police Unions Choosing Labor Rights Over Public Safety?

By Carla Murphy Dec 02, 2014

Are police unions choosing labor rights over the public’s safety? That’s the question Conor Friedersdorf raises in a provocative op-ed in The Atlantic today. It’s a timely look at allegiances given the St Louis Police Officers Association’s letter threatening boycott and condemning Rams players‘ "hands up" gesture during Sunday’s pre-game introductions as well as its fundraising effort for Darren Wilson. Friedersdorf culls examples of police unions’ influence in protecting the jobs and pensions of officers who have been disciplined. One such example is Oakland policeman Hector Jimenez, a case that reporter Ali Winston covered for Colorlines in 2009 and 2011. As told by Friedersdorf:

In 2007, [Jimenez] shot and killed an unarmed 20-year-old man. Just seven months later, he killed another unarmed man, shooting him three times in the back as he ran away. Oakland paid a $650,000 settlement to the dead man’s family in a lawsuit and fired Jimenez, who appealed through his police union. Despite killing two unarmed men and costing taxpayers all that money, he was reinstated and given back pay.

There are other egregious examples like Chicago’s Jon Burge, 66, who, despite torturing at least 100 black men while police commander, this year got to keep his $54,000-a-year pension. His supporters on the pension board, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, were police officers.

Friedersdorf notes that, "[not] every officer who is fired deserves it, [and not] every reinstated cop represents a miscarriage of justice"–but his small sampling of disciplined-then-reinstated officers, alone, also illustrates a need for reform.

Read the full story at The Atlantic.