Over the past decade, successful appeals of termination have forced police departments nationwide to rehire scores of police officers who were fired for misconduct, the Washington Post reports
The Post filed open records requests with 55 of the largest police departments. Based on the 37 departments that complied with the requests, the newspaper reported that departments reinstated 451 officers out of at least 1,881 fired for misconduct since 2006.
At least 33 of the officers were charged with a crime—17 of them were convicted. Misconduct among the overall group ranged from conduct unbecoming an officer to dishonesty. Eight of them were habitual offenders, who departments fired and rehired more than once, The Post discovered.
Some of the most egregious cases include a District of Columbia officer convicted of sexually abusing a woman in his patrol car. In another case, the San Antonio Police Department had dash cam video of an officer who promise to release a handcuffed suspect if the man agreed to fight him. Police chiefs in both cases rehired the officers.
Former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey told the Post that this situation is “demoralizing, but not just to the chief.”
“It’s demoralizing to the rank and file who really don’t want to have those kinds of people in their ranks,” he added. “It causes a tremendous amount of anxiety in the public. Our credibility is shot whenever these things happen.”
Why are police departments rehiring bad cops? The newspaper points to the arbitration process. Arbitrators too often overrule police chiefs, even though officers are typically guilty of the underlying misconduct. These lawyers hired to review the cases, side with the officers if departments make minor missteps, such as missing deadlines, or lack sufficient evidence in the arbitrator’s opinion.
At the same time, police unions stand firmly in support of the officers, claiming that police chiefs overreach, especially when there’s public pressure to fire the officer, the newspaper said.
Under the Obama administration, the Justice Department served as an additional layer to remove corrupt cops. But under President Trump, the department has a policy of backing police officers and not getting involved at the local level.
SOURCE: Washington Post