A disturbing new report in The Washington Post looked at some of the country’s biggest police departments, and found that of the 1,881 officers who were fired for misconduct over the last decade, more than 450 were reinstated.
The violations varied from actions like cheating the departments (and tax payers) out of money while intentionally mis-declaring overtime to shooting an unarmed suspect. Some of the violations are downright shocking: One officer lost his job after a dash cam filmed him attempting to pick a fight with with handcuffed suspect (he said he’d release him if he agreed to fight); one officer sexually abused a teen woman in his police car (he was ordered to be reinstated, but the case remains in arbitration).
According to the findings, the main reason that many of the officers got reinstated wasn’t even that they disputed the misconduct they’d been fired for.
However, many of the officers use lawyers to dispute the firings on technical grounds as mandated by many police unions. From the report: “Yet police agencies sometimes sabotage their own attempts to shed troubled officers by making procedural mistakes.” If lawyers find these types of mistakes, the officers can be rehired. And, in 25% of the cases, they got their old jobs back or their departments were ordered to rehire them.