The four Minneapolis police officers who were fired for their involvement in the death of George Floyd may get their jobs back if the police union appeals their dismissals.
The New York Post reported that the Minneapolis Police Federation has managed to get terminations reversed by arbitrators six out of eight times since 2006. In a letter to members, the president of the union indicated that he is trying to get the cops reinstated.
“They were fired without due process,” the president, Lt. Bob Kroll, wrote of the four officers, all of whom are facing charges that include murder.
One of the cops that the union managed to get reinstated was fired for allegedly kicking a teenager in the head.
“That case might be more egregious than most, but it’s not at all far-fetched in the world of law enforcement labor,” said Andy Skoogman, executive director of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association. “It’s maddening, and the general public should be outraged.”
Criminal justice experts say that arbitration plays an outsized role in keeping officers accused of serious misconduct.
“I would say this is one of the most important accountability issues,” explained Stephen Rushin, a Loyola University Chicago law professor who published a study on arbitration back in 2018. “If you can’t remove bad officers, it’s going to be really hard to improve a police organization.
The police union in Minneapolis has claimed that only a few cases actually go to arbitration each year, adding that research shows arbitrators uphold police firings at about the same rate — roughly 50% — as other types of public employees. Skoogman, however, says that this statistic shows how flawed the system is.
“Imagine running any business and you have to allow 50% of the people you’ve fired to come back in and work in your business,” he said. “It sends the completely wrong message that you can do whatever you want and you’re not going to get fired.”
Dave Bicking, a former member of the Minneapolis civilian police review board, spoke out to say that it is “very likely” the officers will all be reinstated if the union decides to defend them. However, depending on what happens in court, the union may never get the chance to do this.
“The question is, will they be convicted?” he added.