The New York Police Department failed to fire more than 300 police officers guilty of misconduct ranging from lying to superiors, to assaulting innocents, Buzzfeed reported Monday.
Buzzfeed uncovered documents detailing the records of 319 NYPD officers who committed fireable offenses but were never terminated, largely thanks to employment contracts the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA), the city’s largest police union, negotiated. The revelation puts New York City alongside Baltimore and many others that have struggled to get rid bad cops.
“The department is not interested in terminating officers [who] don’t need to be terminated. We’re interested in keeping employees and making our employees obey the rules and do the right thing,” Deputy Commissioner Kevin Richardson told Buzzfeed. “But where there are failings that we realize this person should be separated from the department, this police commissioner and the prior police commissioner have shown a willingness to do that.”
Right-wing critics of unions have long claimed they make it difficult for schools, companies and police departments to fire employees. The New York Post revealed in January the PBA was rolling back the number of “get out of jail free” cards it offered to member officers. Many were surprised such a card existed at all. The PBA offered them to officers to give to friends and family. Their close friends could then flash the cards when they got pulled over or otherwise interacted with police to get preferential treatment.
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh called the Maryland legislature to streamline the firing process for bad cops on March 1, claiming Police Commissioner Darryl DeSousa didn’t have the authority to fire his own officers — thanks to union contracts.
Pugh’s request would require the Maryland Assembly to create a city-specific exception from Baltimore’s police disciplinary laws. A police trial board under the current structure must convict an officer before he can face any punishment or firing — a cumbersome process police unions put in place. Jurisdictions across the country have struggled to fire bad and even criminal cops due to the strength of police unions.
“It’s fair; it’s balanced; it protects the officer, but at the same time, it gives the commissioner the authority the commissioner needs,” City Solicitor Andre Davis told reporters.
Minnesota currently employs 150 officers who have criminal records, having tried to fire many of them only for a union to intervene and have a third-part arbitrator overthrow the termination.
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