Gypsies are officers who have been fired for cause and/or resigned to avoid termination, then secured employment at another department.
The classic “gypsy cop,” about whom this previously internal-law enforcement slang term was popularized, was Tom Coleman, on whose word 16% percent of the black population of Tulia Texas was imprisoned in the infamous 1999 drug sting. That case received international attention, but the term and the circumstances it describes are more common. Just last week, the October 2 Longview News Journal reported that a Longview patrol officer who was fired for excessive force got a job with the Rusk County Sheriff’s Department before his departmental appeals were expired. Other examples abound.
A bill passed in the 2001 Texas Legislature made termination information at TCLEOSE public for officers who engaged in excessive force or criminal conduct, but that should be expanded to make termination notices public for all cases when an officer was fired for cause or resigned while being investigated.
The Law Enforcement Committee of the Texas House of Representatives heard testimony on this topic August 19 (see their video archives), and may recommend reforms to address this problem in the committee's forthcoming Interim Report.