In recent years, public trust in our country’s law enforcement agencies has plummeted as numerous incidents involving police brutality and misconduct have been reported in cities throughout the country. Philadelphia is among those cities to be known for having a police department that is plagued by systemic corruption and wrongdoing.
With public and political pressure growing, politicians and city officials throughout the country are grappling with how to regain public trust and weed out so-called bad cops. However, a recent article in The Washington Post provides insight into why it’s so difficult for police departments to implement reform.
From a police officer who was convicted of assault for kicking a man in custody in the head, to a police officer who was convicted of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman in the back of his squad car, these are just two examples of cases where police departments were forced to re-instate corrupt officers.
According to the Washington Post, since 2016, police departments in 37 of the nation’s largest cities fired more than 1,880 officers for violations of misconduct. Of these officers, nearly one-quarter were reinstated after appealing their cases in arbitration.
In the last decade alone, the Philadelphia Police Department has been forced to rehire 80 police officers who were fired, three of whom were fired and reinstated two times. How and why does this happen? Many high-ranking police officials complain that their authority and power is being undermined and overruled by an appeals process that heavily favors dismissed officers.
Police unions throughout the country provide fired police officers, including those dismissed due to criminal convictions, the option to appeal and arbitrate their case. Frequently, procedural errors are discovered during the course of arbitration which essentially voids the firing, forcing a police department to reinstate an offending officer.
In Philadelphia, city officials recently missed yet another opportunity to negotiate with the police union and change the very arbitration rules that police officials claim make it so difficult to rid their department of corrupt officers.
Residents in Philadelphia and throughout the U.S. demand and deserve better. Police officers are human beings and, unfortunately, despite the oath they take to serve and protect the residents in their communities, some abuse their positions of power. Officers who are accused of corruption, brutality and misconduct should be fired, prosecuted and convicted for their actions.