Police unions — like all unions — will often stop at nothing to protect the interests of their members. Booker Hodges is the assistant commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. He is a longtime union member, but in 2018, writing in PoliceOne.com, he acknowledged that “a union is required to represent an officer, but in cases where someone has clearly violated our oath of office, publicly defending an officer who has clearly violated our oath of office strains neighborhood relations and erodes trust.”
Nor is Hodges alone in his concerns. Skoogman told Chris Wallace that the arbitration process that police-union contracts have imposed often prevent the removal of bad apples: “We have officers that violate public policy, they have a pattern of doing that, and chiefs and sheriffs try to fire them, and our courts reinstate those jobs.”
Indeed. Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who held his knee on George Floyd’s neck, had 18 prior complaints filed against him with the Minneapolis Police Department. Like many departments, “privacy” regulations negotiated as part of police-union contracts make it impossible to know the details.