WHEN POLICE PROTEST
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
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
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
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?
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.
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