Monday, November 29, 2010

How to make $98K distributing pagers

A strong staff editorial in the Austin Statesman today opens like this:
Who can make $98,000 a year for handing out pagers to fellow employees?

The answer is an Austin police officer who was fired for breaking the law and lying but then reinstated to the force through a civil service arbitration system.

His offenses and dishonesty make it risky to assign him to regular police work so he collects a fat paycheck for doing what is called basement duty.

Such is the broken system that permits arbitrators to substitute their decisions for those of police chiefs across Texas with virtual impunity. Until the Legislature fixes that, this community is stuck with bad decisions and cops who collect handsome salaries after they've abused their badges.
Preach! Read the whole thing.

They're right that only the Lege could fix this problem, but unfortunately the issue in Texas is bad on a bipartisan basis, with members of both parties falling over themselves to curry favor with their local police unions, who years ago achieved a standoff with the Texas Municipal League (which represents Texas cities) over the contents of the civil service code, arbitration provisions, etc..

These are among the issues that first drew me into the criminal justice arena fifteen years ago and they remain among the most stubbornly resistant to reform. There's generally no public interest faction at the table in debates over the civil service code at the capitol, just the institutional players, and one thing I've noticed is that newspaper editorial writers seldom get to sit at the negotiating table over bills.


Anonymous said...

Thank heaven for due process. This poor officer was a victim. His only offense: wearing a badge. Why anyone would want to be a police officer in Texas is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

No, Anonymous 06:21, not his only offense - he pleaded guilty to an assault on his wife. Describing him as "this poor officer" is absurd. The "poor" officers are the ones who are actually out in the street doing an honest and thoughtful job protecting the real victims from people who commit assaults and other crimes, while this officer is nice and safe in his basement, organizing the office supplies and suchlike. It's a badge, only a badge, and it isn't permanent and it doesn't come with an automatic halo attached.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"Why anyone would want to be a police officer in Texas is beyond me."

Perhaps for the $98K per year?

Mike Howard said...

This has been a big problem in Dallas as well. Police officers get fired for doing all kinds of awful things, the public applauds the chief for doing what needed to be done, and then a year later, with little to no fanfare, the offending officer is back on the force after he wins his grievance. What a system!

Mike Howard said...

You beat me to it, Grits. I was just about to say that I could think of 98,000 reasons per year... Damn!

The Homeless Cowboy said...

Thank You Scott