On June 17, 2010, Denver police officer Derrick Curtis Saunders was arrested for speeding and driving under the influence. Before he was pulled over, he was driving at 143 mph in a 55-mph zone. That’s 88 miles an hour more than the speed limit. His blood-alcohol level was 0.089 percent, slightly higher than the 0.08 legal limit.
Appropriately, the Denver Police Department dismissed him. (A judge also sentenced him to five days in jail, fined him $300 and ordered him to perform 100 hours of community service.) Now, Saunders would like his job back — and the Denver Police Protection Association stands ready to help him.
Saunders — with the help of the union — filed an appeal to the Denver Civil Service Commission to request his job back. The Denver Post reports:
Saunders’ appeal to the Denver Civil Service Commission asserts that Martinez’s findings and penalties are “unfounded and/or unsupported by the facts” and violate principles of fundamental fairness.
The penalty is “disproportionate to the offenses alleged and/or is excessive so as to be punitive rather than corrective in nature,” according to the appeal, filed by the Denver Police Protective Association’s lawyers.
Nick Rogers, the union’s president, didn’t return a call for comment.
This is so patently absurd that I barely know what to say about it. Is it a union’s job to protect its members from ever bearing the consequences of poor behavior? Apparently so, as not even breaking the law seems to qualify as grounds for the dismissal of a public employee union member. (Consider, too, that the man in question was himself a police officer, whose very job is to uphold the law.) The union mentality seems to be: Members should be able to be not only lazy or ineffective but even negligent and irresponsible and still keep their jobs. The worst part: Just as was the case before he was fired, if Saunders is reinstated, it’ll be taxpayers who pay his salary.
This kind of nonsense helps to explain why unions are on the cusp of losing all credibility.