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Fired Cops Are Routinely Rehired After Arbitration Decisions

Police misconduct is a reality that has become better documented. Studies have shown that it’s rare for departments to fire officers. The data also show that arbitrators regularly overturn discipline and that fired cops routinely return to law enforcement, often at their previous employer – and with back pay, reports Reuters. Last month, the District of Columbia auditor's office found that two out of three cops fired by the Metropolitan Police Department between 2015-2021 were returned to the force, including those with behavior deemed a threat to public safety. In 2020, a Reuters analysis of roughly 3,000 complaints against Minneapolis police officers from the last eight years showed that nine of every 10 were resolved without punishment or intervention. Only five officers were fired. An analysis of records from 37 of the largest police forces showed they hired 91,000 officers in 2017, and had fired 1,881 over the previous decade. At least 451 of those fired officers appealed and were reinstated.

“In recent years, Philadelphia and Oklahoma City have seen nearly every discharged police officer reinstated through arbitration,” attorney Tyler Adams wrote. Between 2006 and 2020, more than half of all appeals by arbitrators were reduced or overturned. According to Washington D.C.'s audit, 36 of the 49 officers fired between 2015 and 2021 were reinstated and received $374,000 on average. Last week, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office in California returned badges and guns to nearly all of the 47 officers that the department had stripped of their duties because they had received “unsuitable” grades on their psychological fitness exams. The agency indicated that they were to return each officer to full duty quickly, without concern about the reasons they were deemed psychologically "unsuitable" for police work.


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