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Why Do Police Unions Talk and Act Like the Mafia? How Can We Stop Them?

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/06/07/why-do-police-unions-talk-and-act-mafia-how-can-we-stop-them

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For a sordid history of the Philadelphia FOP see the case of Mumia Abu Jamal, still
in jail despite overwhelming evidence of innocence and judicial misconduct.

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Make their pay dependent on reduced violence. And, use an independent source to impose consequences for criminal behavior. Then examine training protocols and make adjustments that are supervised and reported to communities routinely.

Stop reinforcing it.

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Welcome to the downside of unions. There are plenty of upsides and I think corporate power is way too strong in the US, I support higher wages in general (though police are payed plenty and I’m not up for raising the salary unless it goes along with a much tougher hiring policy and the higher salary is needed to get enough qualified applicants), and I support mandatory sick leave, a shorter work week, and other goals. But every now and then, you hear the stories:

  1. The trucker’s union objects to trains handling more of the freight transfer so they threaten to not cover the last mile transport unless they can have a bigger piece of the total transport.

  2. The teacher’s union allows some horrendously bad teachers to remain on the job while who knows how long an investigation into widely known behavior of the particular teacher takes place.

  3. The police officer’s union protects bad cops from losing their jobs or their pensions.

Everything has good and bad. Unions aren’t perfect. When they act in ways that aren’t good for us overall, we need a way to push back. My question for the author is do we have any leverage to push back on the arbitration system?

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Just over forty years ago The Buggles cut Video Killed the Radio Star. Perhaps it is time for an update to Video Killed the Police Union.

~https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iwuy4hHO3YQ

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It is many of the police “organizations” themselves the act like “terrorists” against the American People, attacking, harming, dividing, and DISempowering, members of what SHOULD BE a democratic society.
When they fight the American Citizen, and defy our Constitution, they are the enemies of a free society and democracy, … and must be stopped or disbanded.

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I urge all fellow Common Dreamers to write to:

Intl. Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO
14 Al Capone Plaza NW
Washington, DC 20403

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Break up all of the Police Unions.

If we wanted Russian Stormtroopers on our streets, well, we wouldn’t.

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If we are going to be saddled with capitalism, we need labor unions. To be effective, unions must clean their houses. Fortunately, there is movement in that direction. As reported in Truthout, MLK Labor, “the [AFL-CIO affiliate and] central body of labor groups which represents more than 150 unions and 100,000 workers in the Seattle,” is bucking the AFL-CIO and calling out the Seattle Police Officers Guild. It boils down to “eliminate active racism in your ranks and institutional racism in your hierarchies, stand for civil rights, or you’re not welcome here.” MLK Labor is rebuking the AFL-CIO, which is standing by the police unions. Another gem of a quote for your contemplation: “[A]ctivists have pointed out that police unions don’t show up regularly in solidarity for the broader labor movement; instead they actively repress working people by routinely beating and murdering them in the streets. Police officers have long been used to break strikes and kill striking workers, as they have done during historic labor uprisings…” With members like these, what union needs enemies?

Check out the article: ~https://truthout.org/articles/breaking-with-afl-cio-affiliated-labor-council-may-vote-to-expel-police-union/

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They’re not unions; they’re fraternities.

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And if that doesn’t convince them, they can search Frank Rizzo, Philly Police Commissioner.

I think it would be meaningful and responsive if the labor movement as a whole (what remains of it) disowned the police (and prison-guard) unions. Police can call their criminal syndicates “unions” if they like, but such organizations need not be honored with recognition by other unions.

Union means “all for one and one for all.” That’s why police unions are not real unions. Police unions represent civil conflict and oppression, not unity. When your interests are indistinguishable from those of a fascist police-state, declaring war against its own people, you are no longer a union, if you ever were.

From the link shared by @EdsNote:

Trumka told Bloomberg Friday that he won’t cut ties with police unions because “police officers and everyone who works for a living has the right to collective bargaining” and that the “best way to use our influence on the issue of police misconduct is to engage with our police affiliates rather than isolate them.” He told labor leaders and reporters Wednesday that “the answer is not to disengage and condemn” police unions, while imploring labor organizers to fight racism.
…
Protesters set the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the AFL-CIO, aflame Sunday night, smashing in its windows and graffitiing its gold 16th Street entrance with “Black Lives Matter.” While the motivations for the arson remain unclear, the action has put the federation’s partnership and affiliation with police under further scrutiny.

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First.
hare dot org/scales/ I know you can’t answer for anyone, but you can put certain figures through this test from their behavior publicly and privately.

It’s estimated that 1 in 4 people in the US are sociopaths or have strong sociopathic tendencies.
“While the common perception of a psychopath is an axe-wielding serial killer, that is not usually the case. Psychopaths are not all violent criminals (though some are). Psychopathy is a psychological condition based on well-established diagnostic criteria, including superficial charm, conning, and manipulative behavior, lack of empathy and remorse, and a willingness to take risks.” The Atlantic

It’s been my observation from 25 years as an ER RN, a human on this planet for 55 years and a participant in life— that certain people are attracted to certain vocations. I personally would not be a police officer. Nor would I be an astronaut. I wouldn’t even try. I don’t like constant confrontation and I am claustrophobic and afraid of heights.

This said, the type of personality that is attracted to law enforcement–is why we see who we see on the force today. It’s institutionalized via the unions, as well. Anyone who can brandish a weapon, and use it on an unarmed (I didn’t say defenseless) person—is of a certain personality type. And that isn’t someone who would make a good Kindergarten teacher, either.

Second.
The unions for police officers are very different than for anyone else. This is because of the inherent power that the members have to do things like “Destroy you” if you don’t do as they say. Ever get a speeding ticket? Ever fight it in court? You’ve lose already—because the word of the police is gospel. Where did this infallible integrity and honesty fallacy come from? It’s nonsense. And speeding tickets are just the benign part of policing.

Third.

This is the most important thing people need to get through their heads.

The Stanford Experiment.

If you don’t know what it is—then learn. This is a lesson in Human Nature 101. If you don’t believe it, it’s why you struggle with the “why” and the “how” people could be cruel and unjust—even when there is absolutely no threat to themselves.

History and Civics teachers all across this nation do an experiment with their students to teach them the lessons of Nazi Germany’s Brown Shirts. The club emblem. The feeling of inclusion. The power to “enforce rules”. This never turns out well unless there is a strong leadership that punishes abuses.

The police do not allow punishment of their rank and file because they truly don’t believe they’ve done anything wrong. It’s the same as talking to Rain Man—it doesn’t matter how many times you attempt to explain the WHY—the type of people attracted to this vocation==some simply do not have the capacity to understand.

Another author on Sociopathy (I can’t recall who right now) says, “It’s not that they don’t see, it’s that they disagree.” And when the police disagree with something, they have been afforded the power and authority to be RIGHT in all instances (see speeding tickets).

How can we stop them?

Disband the police unions—make them as accountable as I am as a Nurse to being terminated, prosecuted and stripped of making a living if I decide to abuse my position. (nurses have unions as well. and for the most part, they follow in the footsteps of these police unions. I don’t like them and they promote the bad actors as well)

When police don’t have the kevlar safety net that provides them the protections that no one else in this country receives—the ability to say a thing and no one can dispute it (I don’t say this often, but THANK GOD FOR CELLPHONES)----things will change.

I had the unfortunate experience of meeting/knowing JV*—who was the officer that killed Jonny Gammage in 1995. He was a racist, arrogant, aggressive and abusive person who freely admitted to those of us in his private circle—that he has no remorse over killing Mr. Gammage, and would not change a thing. He was abusive to his wife (he cheated on her constantly) and he saw absolutely zero wrong with extorting people for favors and threatening those that didn’t comply with his every demand, immediately. I cheered when he went on trial and I wept when he was aquitted.

This is not new. Police corruption is as old as time. The only way to end it is to end the ability for them to wield power with little to no accountablility.

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I think that police who have committed crimes against people in their custody should lose jobs. If still it turns out that they changed jobs and went on to commit similar crimes elsewhere, they should be prohibited from getting any kind of police work nationally, including desk jobs.

Something similar should apply to all kinds of positions of power that can be abused, Abuse of power by the powerful, who should be trustworthy, against the powerless should be prevented.

They have a fiduciary duty of care to behave with integrity. People should be able to trust public servants of all kinds, right now we can’t. That needs to change.

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Perhaps the Minneapolis City Council has it right. Do a Reagan and fire all the cops like Reagan fired all the air traffic controllers, reconstruct the police force into a community safety force, and destroy the police union.

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BINGO ! I have 2 relatives who are retired policemen and I agree 100% with you.

“…Maybe it’s time to file a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization, or RICO, lawsuit aimed at breaking up this protection racket?..”

The mod bosses in the “Just-us” dept. and their companion bought and paid for co-conspirators on the federal bench and their lapdog justices in the USSC have already neutered RICO and will decline to enforce its statutes in any cases they can’t just outright refuse to adjudicate.

I hope people understand from what I am saying that I am not trying to defend racist cops, I am simply saying that since so many other jobs are likely to be globalized that we have to fight to keep as many jobs as we can out of the bloodbath because otherwise we will literally have no jobs in a few years here for anybody.

SO I dont think that’s fair from a union standpoint - because it will create binding international law- a precedent which will be used to destroy US unions.

Read up on trade agreements on services- we may end up having to privatize and globalize the police force in the entire country at some point due (once they do it once the whole rest may be required to be outsourced, this situation is because thats how the services- and procurement treaties work, yes they are treaties so its international binding law,

Such a situation already likely exists in other fields (healthcare , IT, higher education, and several others) but its being held in check by our use of immigration law quotas when these jobs are non-immigrant temporary jobs, just done for money, nobody is moving here- get it?

so if we lose our quotas - which could happen soon- (Our ability to set immigration quotas when the visas are non-immigrant, for work only- which are being challenged in a dispute - number 503 now going on in Geneva) we could lose literally millions of public jobs within a few years. Including teachers, nurses, all sorts of jobs. You folk probably think I’m kidding, do some research, I’m not. This huge shift was the intent from the beginning, more than 30 yrs ago, we created a whole new trade regime to do it, internationally. Services are a huge chunk of the economy, one where wages are artificially held at mugh higher wages than they are internationally, by restrictive laws that prevent the free movement of labor by the corporations that employ them. This is very controversial because trade agreements basically included obligations to open services- decades ago.

We signed up to the General Agreement on Trade in Services and the WTO Government Procurement Agreement. Thats what agreements like that do. People have to realize, when we joined these trade agreements, it wasnt just for our good looks, they fully do intend to privatize and outsource all public jobs eventually, bit by bit, that isnt because its required sacrificially to globalize them, its because whomever firm has the lowest bid gets a legal entitlement to do the work. because of how much higher wages are here in the US that means that cheaper firms from the developing world will likely win. Actually, there is also a “LDC Services Waiver” which means that firms from LDCs may win them, that is a formal list of poor countries entitled to special treatment. Like a kind of affirmative action. Its intent is so they can build up their economies by exporting labor, the one thing they have a lot of.

Those countries are the countries with the lowest wages too. Its a new form of migrant labor, this is supposed to be the future, countries like the US with our high wages are supposed to specialize in cutting edge stuff, - law, space ships and missiles, avionics, microchips, drug development, high profit margin things, etc.

The low profit margin jobs they fully intend to outsource to low wage countries. Police is one of the only areas that seems immune to outsourcing because its an essential function of the government that nobody sells, but as soon as one town starts it then we may be sued by countries that really want those jobs, and there are likely many of them that see themselves as perfect, repressive countries.

If it starts, they may have to open it all up to bidding. Other countries consider it to be a debt we owe them since we promised to open up all these jobs back in the 90s and many still remain un-globalized.

The question I ask is, “Why have police unions become so powerful?”

  1. We live in a violent culture.
  2. The U.S. military is involved in 80+ armed conflicts around the world. Who do cities /states like to hire? (Ex-military)
  3. The government has armed local police with all kinds of crazy weapons of war.
  4. Add to that the fact that this nation’s number one pastime is football despite the fact that players are at great risk of devastating, long-term brain injury. (We just don’t give a damn.)
  5. Hell, we don’t even give a damn about people who have experienced emotional trauma and turn to illicit drugs for relief. Jail 'em.
  6. People turn to the sex trade to support themselves. Jail 'em.
  7. Remember all those we threw out onto the streets as a solution to our inability/unwillingness to deal with mental illness. If they’re a problem, jail 'em.
  8. The economy has sucked since 2008 and has caused many to end up on the streets. If they become a problem, jail 'em.
  9. Now mix that with long-term racism, classism, and all the other isms.

Who in the hell created this mess? Police unions?

Police unions act like the mafia because of the priorities of our nation. Police are the ones who protect these priorities. Their unions are filled by the hiring practices of police departments, who are controlled by city/state governments, who are run by politicians, whose campaigns are financially supported by those who benefit from the police doing what they have been doing.

Blaming police unions is way, way too simplistic. Want to change things? Start thinking holistically.

It’s time to stop investing in flawed notions of public safety that rely on policing and jails, and start investing in pathways that create stability, opportunity, transparency and tolerance.

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