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Police and Law Enforcement Home  >  Editorials    >    When Police Protest


Police and
Law Enforcement News


Wednesday, November 3, 2004  12:00 a.m.

When serious problems arise in a law enforcement agency, the second worst thing that the agencyís officers could do would be to air out the departmentís dirty laundry by holding a public protest.

The worst thing would be to do nothing.


In recent months there has been quite an increase in protests and rallies by officers and unions protesting issues ranging from lack of contract to suspicious promotional processes. We wanted to chime in and share some thoughts.

For the record, we are against public events except as a last resort.

Not having the best radar units, decked out patrol cars, or a canine unit are not reasons to go public. Being assigned to cover school crossings, prisoner transports, or meal times for inmates are also not valid reasons.

Officer safety is absolutely a reason.

Witch-hunt IA investigations, horrific working conditions, and several years with no contract are also reasons. Agencies appeasing ďthe communityĒ by turning officers who acted properly into sacrificial lambs or not defending against public attacks of these same officers is another very valid reason. None of this should be tolerated.

However, when problems do arise, there should be an order of operations in trying to remedy them. The public rally should not be the first choice, it should be the last.

On the national level, whenever possible, differences are solved through dialogue.

It should be the same with us. Documentation, memos, meetings and more meetings should take place. Ninety percent of the time, sitting down with bosses should resolve problems over valid issues. Most administrators are reasonable and donít want their officers in harmís way or treated unfairly.

In those rare instances where problems are ignored or laughed off, reaching out to town or city administrators would be the next step, but it would be appropriate to first inform the agency bosses that this will be done.

If after a legitimate effort the problems are still not solved, it may be time to reach out for public support as a last resort.

By most accounts, the agencies which have held these recent events were at the last resort stage. The FOPís and PBAís representing these officers voiced some very valid concerns.

Still, we have to be careful. If we protest everything, we become what we despise.

Holdings public rallies needs to be done responsibly, and the body of the unions need to strongly support such a step. For every action there is a reaction. You canít unscramble an egg. The potential risks verses potential rewards need to be measured, and possible backlash needs to be assessed.

In the recent cases the events were well managed and concerns clearly voiced. The events were held responsibly and went without incident.  We posted these events because we supported them.

The leadership of these FOP and PBA locals should be commended too. It takes a lot to put your name and face on the line, and these union officers did just that.  You probably won't be calling any of them "Chief" any time too soon, but they did their job and did it well.  It might be easy to say that you would have done the same thing, but, really, would you?  Remember the names of these leaders who stood up.  And, make it a point to go up to them and thank them. 

Sometimes the traditional approaches donít work, and going public is the only remaining option. With this step comes great responsibility.  Shit stirring for the sake of shit stirring solves nothing.  Sticking up for each other and sticking together can solve just about anything.

Just our opinion.  What's yours?


Reader Comments

November 21, 2004

I totally agree that public protest should be the last resort when it comes to management and public officials not addressing the concerns of it's Police Department in regards to Officer Safety and that of the general public. 

I have to disagree with the notion that not having computers and K-9's should not be included.  Computers in the Patrol Cars have become standard issue in almost all P.D.'s.  They are a tool that allows Officer's to do there job safely and efficiently.  In a time of budget constraints, MDT's in the Patrol Cars makes an Officer more efficient and safe due to it's capabilities.  Also K-9's are a safety issue and allows Officer's to be safer and enables them to do there jobs efficiently.  How many times you have a motor vehicle stop and suspect drugs in the vehicle but don't have Probable Cause to enter the car.  A k-9 gives you that ability.  With the rise of heroin use every where, k-9 dogs have become essential. 

Also in the new age of terrorism, K-9's have become a tool that save lives in critical situations. 

          -Joe Candido
          -Jackson P.D.


November 9, 2004

Union leaders need to meet with elected officials on a regular basis. They will understand the issues that impact the officers and they will the p/o's version. In my agency we were told not to talk to City Council members about police issues. This prevented the council from hearing our side. The only version they would hear would be the Director & City Manager. We approached them as concerned tax payers & union members. The Director tried to stop us but the town attorney told him could not do anything about it. These periodic meetings have helped us solve contracts and disputes much quicker. The politician puts a face with an issue and they are more likely to give a fair shake. Protest and no confidence vote should only be done in an extremely rare case. It generally just makes the administration mad and more unreasonable.


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