Politics

How do bad cops remain on the police force?

With the help of police unions.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

In the national atmosphere, the George Floyd killing has engendered scrutiny of police officers at an utmost level. Most law enforcement personnel are brave men and women who keep society safe at great risk to themselves every day. We owe them respect and gratitude. However, as in any organization, there will be those who woefully fall below standards.

A case in point, aside from the Floyd incident, is a Saturday night debacle in Atlanta where two people were pulled from their car by several Atlanta police officers for little or no reason (so it seems at this point). Granted, the tension on the streets is intense and police officers are under siege in many U.S. cities. But that is not an excuse nor an explanation for brutal actions.

The officers in question have been charged after a dramatic video showed police pulling the two people from a car (after the duo filmed another arrest on their cell phone camera) while the car was stuck in traffic caused by protests over George Floyd’s death. The officers were allegedly enraged they were being filmed, according to an Associated Press report.

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As the car stops, the video shows officers run up to both sides of the car. The passenger door is opened and an officer repeatedly uses a stun gun on a young woman (despite her pleas for him to stop) as she’s trying to exit the car per police admonitions to do so. Officers then pull her from the vehicle. Another officer tells the man driving to put the car in park and open the window. An officer then repeatedly hits the driver’s side window with his baton and breaks it. As the glass shatters and the door is opened, a police officer uses a stun gun on the driver as he is pulled from the car.

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Two Atlanta officers fired on Sunday —Investigator Ivory Streeter and Investigator Mark Gardner— were charged along with four other officers. Streeter is charged with aggravated assault for using a Taser against the female in the car and is also charged with pointing a gun at the driver, according to arrest warrants. Gardner is charged with aggravated assault for using a Taser against the female passenger.

What could they have been thinking? How could they, or an officer like Derek Chauvin, who had 17 complaints lodged against him by the public, remain on the job with other honorable cops? According to conservative writer and social commentator Elizabeth Fortunato, the reason comes down to public sector unions.

She said in an interview with LifeZette, “How does a bad cop like Derek Chauvin remain on the force? The answer is not rooted in systemic racism, but in the moribund bureaucracy that exists in local municipalities. Police Officers are civil service positions. They are protected by a powerful union, the FOP, and they report to department heads like DAs who are elected with union, AFSCME, support… A DA will usually not risk losing union support or angering a political ally by starting disciplinary action against even an out of control police officer.”

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So it’s not so much racism, nor that police departments run amok. It is a civil service system that prefers to pass the buck rather than engage in the long, tedious, expensive, and potentially politically expensive process of challenging powerful unions. That should come as a surprise to many. But given the stranglehold public sector unions have on government in the nation, it sadly does not.

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