A tipster tells me when the city begins negotiations with the police department, one wish list item is removing commanders from the FOP bargaining unit.
By “commanders,” they mean ranks starting with captain, FOP President John McNesby tells me. About 120 people are in that group.
That’s a “divide and conquer” tactic and it’s a nonstarter as far as he is concerned.
A more urgent issue is arbitration, which in the past seems to have returned some awful fired cops back to duty. I remember Police Commissioner John Timoney telling me that was one of the biggest problems he had, and commissioners who followed him agreed.
About a decade ago, I got my hands on arbitration records, hoping to build a case, and write a story about how the process was fatally tilted in favor of the bad cops.
But it wasn’t true. The records I reviewed showed the outcomes for police were about the same as for other cases.
Ten years later the Inquirer reviewed arbitration records and saw the FOP prevailed in more than two-thirds of the cases.
That’s because the police department over charges, one veteran arbitrator told the newspaper. Or maybe something else. As I recall, I found that about 70% of cops were reinstated. Some calls were questionable, but you can say the same about jury trials.
McNesby has high hopes two recently fired cops — Staff Inspector Joseph Bologna and SWAT Officer Richard Nicoletti — will be returned to duty. Bologna was fired for reportedly hitting a young man in the head; video shows Bologna struck the man on the shoulder, which follows training, says McNesby. Nicoletti was fired for using pepper spray on three protestors blocking traffic on I-676. He was ordered to use the pepper spray by a superior officer and it is a legitimate technique, says McNesby, as does Nicoletti’s attorney Fortunato Perri, Jr.
I have written about the Nicoletti case.
The FOP will stick with arbitration, says McNesby.
In a discussion about police procedure, is there anything McNesby won’t tolerate?
“We’re not for chokeholds,” he says, and the FOP worked with state Attorney General Josh Shapiro to draft legislation for a database to track troubled officers, he says, adding there are smaller tweaks the FOP would be willing to look at.
It’s not a good time to be a cop.
There are calls to defund departments, and a belief by some of the population that ACAB — “All Cops Are Bastards,” and “Ain’t no good cops in a racist system,” and “the only good cop is a dead cop.” Think I am exaggerating? Read this piece of crap.
No wonder the dimwit doesn’t use a last name.
Branded as racists, convicted without a trial, what can cops do?
It happens that last Thursday night the “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” closed with a brief story about a central California cop who saw an elderly man in a wheelchair who was stuck on railroad tracks — and a freight train was bearing down on him.
The female officer leaped from her patrol car and ran to the man, trying to pull his wheelchair off the tracks.
She couldn’t, so she wrapped her arms around the man, pulled him out of the wheelchair and off the tracks, risking her life to save his.
Every so often the network news will carry a “brave cop” story, but they are outweighed by “bad cop” stories, especially when the “bad cop” is white, and the victim is a minority.
The “bad cop” narratives dominate the media, yet I know there are “good cop” stories that happen every day that we don’t hear about.
Of course no number of “good cops” erase the damage done by the “bad cops.”
Does the FOP, local or national, do anything to get the positive stories out?
Local Lodge 5 does have a PR firm, Bellevue Communications Group. “We give it to them. We pump it out,” says McNesby. “We also have social media with Facebook. We haved Twitter, we have Instagram,” but telling positive stories about police isn’t popular nowadays, he says. “It doesn’t sell newspapers.”
Part of the problem is the police department itself has not been actively promoting its own. A few years back, the Daily News had a weekly feature that spotlighted good cops. Getting nominees from the department was like pulling teeth. My guess is it got a little political, in how a nominee was chosen.
Cooperation from the public affairs department seems to reflect what the commissioner thinks is important. In all honesty, the cooperation I get is better under Commissioner Danielle Outlaw than in the recent past. So that’s good news.
But the other good news, about hard-working, brave, honest cops, doesn’t get told. That’s something the national FOP ought to focus on distributing.
I understand networks don’t want to take “good cop” video from the cops, but they sometimes will.
If they don’‘t? There are teenagers who do hairstyles with 75 million online followers. If the networks won’t chase “good cop” stories themselves, the FOP should go around them and do it themselves. Create a “good cop” series, perhaps with a popular celebrity host. There are enough cops — some 800,000 — and friends of cops to make such posts go viral. No propaganda, just actually footage of “good cops” to interrupt the narrative that All Cops Are Bastards.
I think America would be surprised by the number of Americans whose lives were saved, or improved, every day, by police.