Posts Tagged ‘police unions’

Protecting (and hiding the ball on) cops gone wrong

The city of Phoenix quietly erases police misconduct records: “The practice, which the Department refers to as ‘purging,’ has been standard for more than two decades under the police union’s contract, but the public has been unaware of it.” [Justin Price, Arizona Republic; Tim Cushing, TechDirt]

Although the Supreme Court’s Brady doctrine requires prosecutors to inform defense counsel of evidence undermining the credibility of police witnesses, the right can amount to little if matters are so arranged that past instances of officer dishonesty never come to their attention in the first place [Steve Reilly and Mark Nichols, USA Today] In Baltimore, following the conviction of several officers in the notorious Gun Trace Task Force scandal, the state’s attorney has begun throwing out nearly 800 convictions tainted by the wrongdoers’ testimony [my Free State Notes post]

Meanwhile: “The former New York police officer who was fired in August for using a chokehold during Eric Garner’s deadly arrest five years ago is suing to be reinstated.” [Doha Madani, NBC News] Earlier, New York’s Police Benevolent Association said the city’s police commissioner would “lose his police department” if he followed a judge’s recommendation and fired Daniel Pantaleo [Jonathan Blanks, Cato; Joel Mathis, The Week]

Police union roundup

  • New research finds Florida extension of collective bargaining rights to sheriff’s deputies correlated with increase in violent incidents when compared with municipal forces, for which law did not change [Dhammika Dharmapala, Richard H. McAdams, and John Rappaport, Cato Research Briefs in Economic Policy #171]
  • “This Cop Is Getting $2,500 a Month Because Killing an Unarmed Man in a Hotel Hallway Gave Him PTSD” [Scott Shackford; Mesa, Arizona] “A Portland police sergeant was fired last year for suggesting to his fellow officers that they should shoot black people for no reason. More than a year later, he’s in line to receive a $100,000 settlement from the city.” [Joe Setyon]
  • “Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner drew up a list of cops he wouldn’t put on the stand because of their history of misconduct, and the local Fraternal Order of Police union sued.” [Scott Greenfield]
  • California police groups fight to stop new law making misconduct records public [Scott Shackford, and more, and yet more]
  • “Police Officer Claims He Feared For His Life After Shooting Family’s Roomba To Death” [humor/satire, Babylon Bee]
  • Camden, N.J.’s start-over-from-scratch approach to police employment seems to be producing some favorable results [Alex Tabarrok with charts from Daniel Bier]

Social media clues to an AFL-CIO shift

First the labor organization’s official account tweeted out a joke about dealing with an adverse employer, Delta, by way of a guillotine, though it later deleted the tweet as not consistent with its values. But then days later it ran in all apparent seriousness a video of a “Marxist, roofer” narrator urging viewers to seize the means of production (“Means TV” describes itself as “the first anti-capitalist worker-owned streaming platform”). This is not your mom’s or dad’s AFL-CIO [Christian Britschgi, Reason; Noah Rothman, Commentary] Time for some member unions to begin thinking of disaffiliating?

The NYPD’s DNA dragnet

New York City police have employed the equivalent of DNA dragnets, combining voluntary with covert (e.g., grabbing a discarded cup) collection methods. Thus, before identifying a suspect in the Howard Beach jogger case, “the NYPD collected well over 500 DNA profiles from men in the East New York area….But things get worse from there. For those people excluded from the jogger case, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the city’s crime lab, permanently keeps those profiles in their databank [with more than 64,000 others] and routinely compares profiles to all city crimes.”

In other words, cooperate with police by giving a DNA sample in order to help solve (or clear yourself in) some dreadful crime, and you’re in the database to nail for anything and everything else in future. “In this respect, [you] will be treated just like someone convicted of a crime.” And did you guess this? “Under their labor contract with the city, rank-and-file officers don’t give the lab their DNA, which means the lab can’t easily rule out possible crime-scene contamination.” [Allison Lewis, New York Daily News]

Victim’s-rights law shields cops’ names after civilian shootings

A coordinated national campaign promotes enactment of Marsy’s Law, a set of victim’s rights enactments that have been added to state constitutions in many states. (Marsy’s Law amendments were on six state ballots this fall, and did well.) My colleague Roger Pilon testified in 1997 against a proposed federal constitutional amendment.

Now a South Dakota version of such a law is being used by police officers to conceal their identities from the public after a shooting by a police officer of a civilian who was subsequently charged with assaulting the trooper. Similar claims of confidentiality have been made under other states’ Marsy’s Laws to prevent disclosure of names of officers who have carried out shootings. [Scott Shackford, Reason]

More on the problems with victims’ rights laws from Scott Greenfield (“a right has been created for the ‘victim,’ which is curious since there is no victim until there’s a crime, and there is no crime until a jury says there is….many of these ‘rights’ are in direct conflict with some other guy’s rights in the well. Can you guess who that might be?”), Steve Chapman, Jill Lepore, and Sophie Quinton at StateLine, and my opinions against victim impact statements.

While we’re at it: Rules barring the interviewing of police soon after an officer-involved shooting (“cooling-off period”) impair, not advance, accurate investigation [Tom Jackman, Washington Post via Radley Balko] And via Justin Fenton of the Baltimore Sun, although the general rule in Maryland is that police officers on probationary status can be fired without internal due process, that rule applies except in instances of brutality allegations. Thanks a million, Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBR)!

Employment discrimination law roundup

  • Employee with (per Costco) history of “serious misconduct and insubordination” wins $750K after being fired for speaking at too loud a volume, the result she said of deafness-related difficulty in modulating her voice [Jon Hyman]
  • “Now What? Disciplining an Employee with a Suspected Addiction or Substance Abuse Issue” [Dale Deitchler and Jeffrey Dilger, Littler]
  • ADA: “6th Circuit says full-time work is not an essential function of every full-time job” [Jon Hyman] “So, you want to change the essential functions of a particular job, do you? Let’s talk ADA.” [Eric B. Meyer]
  • “Our group member has a fragrance sensitivity – and we’re supposed to be hugged to check for any scents” [Alison Green, Ask a Manager via Hyman]
  • “Is the sexual harassment “groundswell” starting?” [Robin Shea, Constangy; state agency volume] “Bracing For The Deluge Of EEOC Lawsuits” [Gerald Maatman, Seyfarth Shaw; EEOC filings rise]
  • “Why Doesn’t Diversity Training Work?” [Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev, Anthropology Now; related, Amy Alkon (counterproductive “privilege checking”)]
  • Arbitrator orders Oregon town of West Linn to pay $100,000+ to cop fired after incendiary, racially charged Facebook posts [Everton Bailey Jr., Oregonian]

Police roundup

Police and prosecution roundup

  • After parking lot shooting Pinellas County, Florida sheriff “claim[ed] his hands were tied by Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. But that is not true” [Jacob Sullum, Reason, more; David French, NRO]
  • Major USA Today story on origins of Baltimore’s devastating crime and murder wave [Brad Heath; Jonathan Blanks, Cato]
  • Related: in Baltimore’s Gun Trace Task Force police scandal, plea bargains punished the innocent [Capital News Service investigation by Angela Roberts, Lindsay Huth, Alex Mann, Tom Hart and James Whitlow: first, second, third parts]
  • California Senate votes 26 to 11 to abolish felony murder rule, under which participants in some serious crimes face murder rap if others’ actions result in death [ABA Journal, bill]
  • New Jersey’s reforms curtailing cash bail, unlike Maryland’s, seem to be working reasonably well [Scott Shackford; longer Shackford article on bail in Reason; earlier here, here, etc.]
  • “Miami Police Union Says Head-Kicking Cop ‘Used Great Restraint,’ Shouldn’t Be Charged” [Jerry Iannelli, Miami New Times]

Sentencing to serve symbolism: the Protect and Serve Act

Moving rapidly through Congress with bipartisan backing: “a new bill modeled after a federal hate crime statute would make it a crime to intentionally target a law enforcement officer based on his ‘actual or perceived status’ as one.” [Emanuella Grinberg, CNN]

I argued in 2015 that this idea is a very bad one, as well as unneeded, even at the state and local level. Beyond that, doing it as a federal enactment is of dubious constitutionality [Ilya Somin] More: office of Sen. Orrin Hatch (quoting Fraternal Order of Police chief Chuck Canterbury on bill’s being “modeled after the federal hate crime statute”). Killings of police in the line of duty declined last year and are at far lower levels than in the 1970s and 1980s, setting 50-year lows by some standards.

Police roundup

  • BBC on Baltimore police gun trace task force scandal [Jessica Lussenhop] Didn’t even bother using the real kind: “Baltimore Cops Carried Toy Guns to Plant on People They Shot, Trial Reveals” [Drew Schwartz, Vice]
  • Kentucky state police to media: do not put anything out about our investigations on social media “until OUR (KSP) press release is sent out.” Really? [Scott Greenfield]
  • “In unmarked cars, Orlando, Fla. officers box in car whose occupants are suspected of not wearing seatbelts; the driver drives off; the police catch up, ram the car, and shoot the driver dead. Allegation: Contrary to the officers’ testimony, the driver wasn’t about to run over an officer when he was killed; he couldn’t have, as the car’s engine had died after police rammed the vehicle. Eleventh Circuit: Qualified immunity. (H/t: Police4aqi.)” [John K. Ross, “Short Circuit”]
  • Police unionization may increase misconduct: “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.” [Dhammika Dharmapala, Richard H. McAdams, and John Rappaport via Jonathan Adler]
  • Dept. will publish accounts of misconduct investigations, but with names of officers omitted: “NYPD Argues They Simply Can’t Be More Transparent About Its Violent Cops” [Molly Osberg, Splinter News]
  • Michigan: “Seven Current and Former Police Officers Charged with 101 Felony Counts related to Fraudulent Auto Inspections”
    [Attorney General Bill Schuette]