I supervised union employees from 1995 until 2013.
95% of those employees are people I respected. They came to work every day. They did their jobs. They were (generally) pleasant to be around.
5% of those employees were a burr in everybody else's knickers. That five percent created more work for me, as a supervisor, than the other 95%.
The first "discipline" I was involved with took five hours of my time.
Later "disciplines" I was able to whip out in three hours, or so.
Every discipline was invariably "challenged". Often, my management would roll-over and expunge the discipline. The miscreant would be back with back-pay and a shit-eating smile. My management informed me "We got something we needed from the Union by erasing your discipline."
I saw 3-to-5 hours of my life wasted and my authority destroyed.
The Pareto Principle
Pareto was an Italian economist.
Pareto was the first person to document the idea of the significant few and the insignificant many. I think his original observation involved people who paid taxes. He postulated that a small number (say 20%) invariably paid the largest part (usually claimed to be 80%) of the taxes.
An industrial problem-solver stumbled upon the concept. He noticed that a small number of causes were responsible for a large percentage of the defects.
Sometimes the Pareto Principle is called the 80:20 rule.
Pass the Trash
My dad worked in education.
Teachers, in Michigan, have strong unions.
Some teachers were not able to do their jobs.
Some teachers were very inappropriate.
Some teachers were dangerous (shop, chemistry, physical education).
Every year, teachers who had "a problem" in one building were sent to a new building. It was called "passing the trash". Many, many times it was the same teachers who had to be moved.
Black Live Matter
Do Black Lives Matter more than Organized Labor?
Because that is where the chain of inquiry ends. Do the Byzantine contracts and Union bosses-backroom deals get a dose of transparency? Do the citizens that police are supposedly protecting matter?
Back to Pareto
If every police officer is an independent process, then it is reasonable to presume that some/most are not a problem. They may occasionally/rarely stumble into an unfortunately situation, but that is not the norm.
On the other hand, there are a few officers (maybe 5%?) who are lightening rods for "complaints".
The thing about "complaints" is that complaints represent a very small slice of the problems generated by a given process. Bridgestone Tire Company recognized this and postulated something that became known as The Bridgestone Law of Quality.
One of the auto plants in town (Lansing General Motors, Plant 2), one that I never worked in, had a unique contract.
Supervision was allowed to issue discipline based on "patterns". For example, in a typical United Auto Workers contract the employee might be allowed to miss five days a year and as long as they called in an hour before starting time there was nothing the supervisor could do about it.
At LGMP2, the supervisor could issue discipline the third Friday the employee called in. You see, three makes a pattern.
If every-other missed day was a Friday, then the supervisor could issue discipline. There was a pattern.
Addressing Black Lives Matter in an effective way
If you don't change anything, then nothing is going to change.
If I ran the universe, I would allow people supervising police to put individual officers on-notice based on "patterns".
I would designate one person to handle the administrative burden of officers who are put on-notice for issues like excessive force. That way, supervisors (who already have a full work day) would not be tempted to look the other way because they don't want to deal with the extra five hours of work.
At the state level, I would pass legislation that indemnified agencies who black-balled "trash" lest they be passed from one agency to the next to the next. Because what happens now? When an officer starts getting too much heat in one police organization they move to another agency.
And what happens to the organization where he/she currently works if they do not give him/her a glowing recommendation? They get stuck with the toxic officer and are likely face a lawsuit for defaming the toxic officer's reputation.
An alternative would be to have the equivalent of the sex-offender registration list. Any officer who receives a complaint for excessive force (or something similar) gets it recorded in a database that is accessible to the public. If an agency hires an officer with multiple entries in the database...well, they get to explain it if that officer has issues in their community.
And, as long as I am running the universe, I would have a chat with every union official.
Union officials are legally required to represent the people who pay their dues. They do, however, have some latitude in deciding how aggressively they represent them.
Union members who are "written-up" for driving fork-trucks while drunk get a very minimal representation. Operators of power equipment who are drunk imperil other dues-paying union members. It is a go-through-the-motions representation.
My chat would point out that overly aggressive "representation" of abusive police officers results in targets being painted on the back of every other (95%) police officer in the field.
Some issues are worth fighting management about. Some are not. I submit that the system is broken if 2% of the officers in law enforcement are not redirected out of that profession every year...at least until the bad apples are purged.
Gresham's Law states that bad money drives out good money. If your local currency is debauched, then people load their good money (Swiss Francs, US Dollars and so on) into suitcases and move it out of the country before officials can confiscate it.
It also applies to organizations. Bad teachers drive out good teachers. Bad officers drive out good officers.
Either police administration, and their partners in the Unions, get their arms around the issue or they will be sitting on a powder keg in a lightning storm.
Link to a follow-up post