Cops and Unions

[My Note: As a police chief, I tended to support police unionization of my officers in order to give them a strong voice in making joint decisions regarding “wages, hours, and conditions of work.” If we are serious about improving our police and building trust between them and those whom they serve, it will require police leaders and their union representatives to strongly work together. This will be difficult, though not impossible from my experience. This means many police unions will have to step back from endorsing and supporting politicians and police chiefs being against bargaining with employee representatives. The following article comes from PERF Daily Clips, 12/19/22]

USA Today: How the push and pull of unions is hindering police reform around the country

“Common demands for police reform include chipping away at long-established police protections: make complaints against officers open to the public, tighten and enforce use-of-force rules, and reform the disciplinary process.

“Yet, in cities and towns across the country, those demands have met fierce resistance from police unions, which sometimes use their power and political influence to thwart efforts their members oppose.
As the public pressure mounts to reform policing in America, examples have cropped up across the country that indicate the power dynamic with some police unions has shifted – whether by choice or force. Some union leaders have taken up reins to try to lead change, and others have made concessions after facing public backlash. And some unions are fighting to maintain their power as outside groups try to strip them of their control.”


  1. Chief, as the late Ed DeLattre wrote in “Character and Cops,” “Raise the salaries if jobs merit higher pay but not in expectation of buying integrity. Nobody sells that. People who have it give it for free.” Unions often do good work to support their membership and even the community, but sometimes they “circle the wagon” around a bad officer. One example:


  2. Chief, as the late Ed DeLattre wrote in “Character and Cops, “Raise the salaries if jobs merit higher pay but not in expectation of buying integrity. Nobody sells that. People who have it give it for free.” While unions frequently do good for their membership and the community, sometimes they “circle the wagons” around someone who tarnishes his badge.


  3. In my experience, unions now protect the least competent officers. The union certainly had its place in the 1980s when cops worked for starvation wages and had no rights. Back then the Chief commanded the organization and city councils allowed them to do so, sometime to the detriment of its members. A gradual erosion of management authority has taken place since then. Today a chief cannot make a decision on something as fundamental as evaluating the performance of his or her officers without the “consent” of the union. City managers are frightened of the unions political power and will not back a chief if it means offending the union. In Illinois they just passed a union backed state constitutional amendment cementing the power of public sector unions.


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