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Prevent collective bargaining

To the editor:

Among proposals for policing reform recently released by the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus, there is one glaring omission: Prevent destructive Collective Bargaining Agreements putting bad cops back on the street.

According to checkthepolice.org, of the nation’s 81 largest cities:

  • 50 restrict interrogations by limiting how long an officer can be interrogated, who can interrogate them, the types of questions, and when an interrogation can take place, sometimes delaying for up to 30 days.
  • 64 limit consequences for officers, including preventing an officer’s history of past misconduct from being considered in future cases.
  • 43 erase records of misconduct, in some cases in as little time as six months.
  • 48 let officers appeal disciplinary decisions to an arbitrator who can reinstate that officer and often do.

These provisions lead to examples like California officer Hector Jimenez, who shot an unarmed man three times in the back, killing him as he ran away — just seven months after Jimenez had shot and killed an unarmed 20-year-old. Despite killing two unarmed men and costing taxpayers $650,000 in a settlement to the family of one of the dead men, he was reinstated and given back pay.

Collective Bargaining Agreements negotiated between localities and local police unions have been prohibited in Virginia. But starting next May, they are permitted.

The General Assembly should limit the scope of such agreements to compensation and benefits. Allowing accountability to be negotiated has done nothing but empower police misconduct in other states, and we should not let it happen here.

Christian N. Braunlich

President, Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy

Alexandria