The Trouble with Police Unions

The Trouble with Police Unions
(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

This past spring, the killing of George Floyd sparked protests and riots in cities nationwide. State and local governments responded by banning choke holds and other police tactics. Some are now seeking to reduce police funding.

Floyd's death also put police unions under a microscope. A consensus quickly emerged, asserting that unions protect officers who behave poorly and impede reform that would improve policing and police-community relations. The central idea animating the new consensus is that police-union power has translated into too many officer job protections, enabling a few bad officers to act with impunity. The inability to hold officers accountable poisons public relations and puts American lives at risk. Rolling back protections enshrined in union contracts and state statutes, many now argue, will reduce the use of force by police and increase community trust in law enforcement.

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