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Edward Ring

If Police Unions Were Abolished and Police Associations Were Restored

Earlier this month the New York Times ran an editorial entitled “When Police Unions Impede Justice.” They make the point that collective bargaining agreements for police employees often make it very difficult to hold police officers accountable for misconduct. When you have nearly 1.0 million sworn police officers in the United States, you’re bound to have a few bad apples. According to the NYT, these collective bargaining agreements discourage citizens from lodging misconduct complaints, micromanage investigations, and minimize disciplinary sanctions.

This isn’t news. It’s one of the reasons collective bargaining agreements for police officersare especially problematic. The other big problem with collective bargaining agreements for members of public safety are theoften excessive and unaffordable benefit packages they’ve “negotiated” with the politicians whose careersare made or broken by these same unions. So what if police unions were abolished?

One may argue that abolishing police unions in favor of police associations – which… Read More

Edward Ring

Appreciating Police Officers, Challenging Police Unions

In the wake of tragic and deadly attacks on police officers, those of us who have never wavered in our support for the members of law enforcement, but have questioned the role of police unions and have debated issues of policy surrounding law enforcement have an obligation to restate our position. Civil libertarians and fiscal conservatives have disagreements with police unions which were summed up quite well recently byguest columnist Steve Greenhut, writing in the Orange County Register. Here are some of the principal concerns:

Police unionization protects bad officers and stifles reform. Lack of transparency into investigations of police misconductaids and abets the worst actors. Police unions often support laws designed to extract increased revenue from citizens in the form of excessive fines. The “war on drugs” andmilitarization of law enforcement can further increase the tension between police and the populations they serve. And, of course, police unions fight relentlessly for increases to compensation and benefits, especially straining the budgets ofRead More

Edward Ring

Can Unionized Police Be Held Accountable for Misconduct?

“We thought [the employees we fired] were inappropriate to be employees of the city.” – Los Angeles Police ChiefBernard Parks(ret.), in reference to the termination of corrupt police officers,Rampart scandal (late 1990’s)

About a year ago we published an editorial asking this question, “How much does professionalism cost,” using as an example the tragic death of Kelly Thomas. In that case, six police officers repeatedly struck with batons and tased an unarmed man, who died a few days later of his injuries. Since that tragedy back in 2011, numerous cases of police misconduct have surfaced, many of them with equally tragic consequences. The latest one, while inexcusable, is more farce than tragedy, involving a team ofSanta Ana police officers whoRead More

Edward Ring

Conservatives, Police Unions, and the Future of Law Enforcement

Conservatives in America are at a crossroads. They face a choice between greater freedom or greater security. While striking this delicate balance has required ongoing policy choices throughout history, recent events involving law enforcement have brought these choices into sharp focus. Here’s how Patrik Johnson, writing last month in theChristian Science Monitor, described the choice:

“Police forces nationwide are being pulled between two opposite trends: more empathetic, community policing and an increasingly militarized response to crises.”

How conservatives, on balance, weigh in on this choice has far reaching consequences. On one hand, conservatives can support suggested reforms that embrace the value of empathy, minimize violence, alleviate tensions, and pave the way for 21st century policing appropriate to a free republic. Here is a key reform advocated by the protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, in reaction to the tensions in that city following a police shooting:

“A comprehensive review by the Department ofRead More

Edward Ring

Police Unions in America

The first thing we have to understand is that without the law, we have nothing. It turns into a situation of savage against barbarian, of the powerful against the powerless. It turns into a situation of dog eat dog, unrestricted, without restraints or consideration of anybody’s humanity. Dr. Harry Edwards,POPSspot Sports Radio Interview, August 22, 2014

Police union spokespersons often suggest that media coverage of police actions is invariably negative. Where are the reporters when a cop performs a good deed? Whether or not the media is truly biased against members of law enforcement is debatable, of course, but as noted sociologist Harry Edwards points out, “without the law, we have nothing.” Given the penchant for many professional social commentators and activists to jump onto the latest anti-police brutality bandwagon with unequivocal pronouncements, Dr. Edwards’ measured response is… Read More