I’ll probably become the enemy of quite a number of the Fraternal Order of Police with this post. And I don’t fucking care. It’s time someone said this out loud in a documented way. Something we already know.
We we already know about this cycle of cops going to prison over and over and bad cops getting their jobs back while good cops seethe under their hats that the ‘shit floats to the top’ and the idiots are always safe while promotions are scarce and the office politics are heavy, bitter and backbiting.
Why is this culture so thick at the Philadelphia Police Department? Meet the police arbitration contract.The arrest of six of Philadelphia’s finest yesterday long after District Attorney Seth Williams informed Philly’s top cop that he would no longer call on these narcotics officers to testify on cases because they can’t be trusted to say anything truthful spawned an immediate knee-jerk reaction from FOP5 president John McNesby.
When the DA’s office refuses to deal with a cop or put them on the stand, any criminal suspect that cop is involved with in a case gets a virtual immunity card and gets a lotto ticket towards a civil suit settlement. Defense attorneys are elated with joy, as any human interaction that cop ever had during their carrer now becomes suspect. It buries the City in civil litigation and the settlement checks start coming out of the laser printers. That cop is now a toxic liability and the only thing he’s good for is cleaning the toilets and fetching coffee and not much else.
But you can’t fire him.
That’s because over the decades starting with former mayor Frank Rizzo, who rose from the ranks of the Philadelphia Police Department to become the city’s top cop and ultimately its mayor, the police union, FOP Lodge #5, has had a lopsided contract that heavily protects its workers from most disciplinary action and strongly discourages the police department from taking direct corrective action. Even when cops are identified by Internal Affairs, which has had its own corruption scandals, the discipline constraints severely limit what the PPD can do. No other employer in Philadelphia has restrictions like this. Not even City civil service workers.
Realistically the only way to get rid of a bad cop is with handcuffs–from the Feds. Which is what happened yesterday. And those cops were well known to be bad within the department before and after the DA’s office made their announcement a year ago.
Deep within the bowels of the Police Department itself are oodles of human choad that the Roundhouse cannot get rid of. For bad cops on time-out it basically acts as a welfare system to collect checks and marking time towards the pension. Your first thought might be ‘well, if I can’t fire the person… I can certainly transfer them to duty where they’ll be less of a headache’.
But that’s the problem. There’s already so much of that and for so long that finding a reassignment is a pain in itself.
Maybe it’s time the PPD started building rubber rooms akin to what the New York public school system designed to deal with staff it can’t terminate but it doesn’t want in the classroom. You report to work and ensure all the copy machines have toner in them. Every hour.Sometimes when cops fuck up though the FOP5 stays quiet about it, like it did when P/O Corley was charged with rape in 2011. But that’s because DNA evidence revealed that his semen was found on the victim and the victim also managed to find a SEPTA police officer to report the crime. That’s pretty brave… being raped by a cop and then dealing with that to report the rape to another cop. Can you imagine what psychosis this introduces?
Luckily for her, the command structures of SEPTA PD and PPD are different enough that her report didn’t fall on deaf ears and an investigation was actually conducted to its natural conclusion.
The murder of Billy Panas by P/O Frank Tepper was another insight into how the police union reacts to information it holds close to its chest. After Panas was killed in a drunken dispute, the lip-flapping from FOP was rather muted.
FOP’s silence is almost a clear litmus test of any accused officer’s guilt. When a cop fucks up and McNesby is nowhere to be found, the charges are probably dead-on accurate. Of course if no prosecution ever occurred, Officer Tepper would still be on duty right now instead of spending a life sentence upstate and he would still be a ticking time bomb ready to go off on the wrong Philadelphian who crosses his path.
But think for a moment, all that bullshit that likely gets swept under the rug and doesn’t make it to the front pages of the local news because there are so many cretins crawling around the Department hiding what they can from Chuck Ramsey and Internal Affairs.
Why is it this way?
It’s that arbitration contract. It makes direct and timely discipline absolutely verboten at the PPD. Some bad apples are terminated anyway, only for FOP5 to swiftly execute the arbitration contract and get those folks back on the payroll. Arbitrators are forced by the generous clauses to reinstate and award back pay while FOP5 president McNesby fluffs his feathers and the Lodge issues a ream of grammatically-grotesque fatwahs.
Scandal by scandal, year by year, convicted cop after convicted cop, the case is made to revise the arbitration contract to allow the PPD chief to properly discipline his subjects.
>> But Chris… that means you hate cops!
I know what most of the shitstains of this city would say if they get this far in my post today. I only think highly of good cops. I don’t lump every single person who collects a paycheck from the Philadelphia Police Department into one bucket.
I’ve lived here enough years to see so many people flushed out of the Department in disgrace and have been alarmed at high how a number it is, and how grotesque the crimes are that people in the Department are committing.
The Police Department has had this cancer ever since Rizzo solidified cronyism into the police contract and the Chief of Police is totally powerless to excise the tumor. When Rizzo himself was Police commissioner he had far greater powers to get rid of officers who were bad news. He has neutered every police chief who has since run the department when he became mayor and made discipline a thing of the past.
We all know this has to stop. All the good cops on the streets know this has to stop.
The problem is that the people of this city are so fucking clueless and are sensationalized by each scandal; they don’t have time to understand why it is this way and they wonder why nothing is ever done about it.
How bad does it get before City Council and the Mayor decide that time’s up? FOP5 only needs to look at what’s happened to the Firefighters and their union to see what lies down that road.
What was the Fraternal Order of Police’s latest contract victory? The right for cops to move out of the city. That’s was a top priority for McNesby in 2008.
What the fuck does that tell you?