June 8, 2020

Reforming policing in America is a staggeringly complex issue, but John Oliver hit all the major problems (including white supremacy) last night. Here's what he had to say about police unions, via Deadline:

Oliver featured one clip with Dave Grossman, an expert of “Killology”. He specializes in warrior-style police training and is on the road 200 times a year. To give context, the officer that killed Philando Castile took participated in this training where he tells them they are predators. In the wake of Castile’s shooting, Minneapolis mayor banned the training but Bob Kroll, president of the Minneapolis police union, defied it.

One of the biggest obstacles of police reform are police unions. The unions can make it incredibly difficult to discipline even the most egregious conduct from any police officer. Oliver references one incident in 2018 when Minneapolis police officers decorated a tree with racist items and posted it on social media. The mayor said they would be fired by the end of the day, but backpedaled and said there is a process — but today it is still under arbitration.

Oliver said that a police union contract makes it difficult to remove a problematic officer. He gives us more stats: the nation’s largest police departments have fired at least 1,881 officers for misconduct but was forced to reinstate more than 450 of them after appeals required by union contracts.

“When faced with accountability they don’t like, unions will often issue the ultimate threat: simply pull back and let crime rise,” he said before throwing it to a clip of the head of New York’s largest police union who was clearly upset after a judge recommended they fire the police officer that killed Eric Garner. He was fired up that the police officers had to “take it a step slower.”

The entire show is devoted to this, and it's better done than I've seen on most news channels. (Except for the digs at Bill Clinton pushing for more police hires -- at the time, inner cities were wracked by the crack epidemic and black voters were begging for more cops on the beat.)

Watch the whole thing, you'll be smarter for it.

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