Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Alinskyite police unions have too much power

Check out this CATO Institute podcast featuring the Texas Public Policy Foundation's Derek Cohen opining on "The Power of Police Unions." Police unions push for "creating privileged class" when it comes to misconduct and lawbreaking, suggested TPPF's deputy director. Speaking of myriad union-inspired protections afforded to officers during misconduct investigations, Cohen observed, "They don't want to be treated as a suspect, even if the activity is a crime."

The podcast also featured a rare public mention of the police-union playbook written by Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT) mugwump Ron DeLord, their executive director John Burpo, and several associates, "Police Union Power, Politics and Confrontation in the 21st Century," which is essentially a book-length homage to Saul Alinsky draped in the rhetoric of law enforcement. (Title of Chapter 3: "Saul Alinsky: Still the Man with the Plan.") I've always wondered how Alinskyite unionists could remain so tight with the likes of Rick Perry, Greg Abbott, and Dan Patrick, and clearly TPPF's Cohen wonders the same thing.

Listen to the whole podcast; good stuff, Derek!

See also from TPPF:


Anonymous said...

It seems TPPF is using the Alinskyite's "Rules for Radicals" strategy. The antiunion CATO foundation, funded by the anti-union billionaire Koch brothers, is a not a good place to start as a source for attacking unions of any kind.

Scott you might try finding common grounds with police unions as they are organizations with elected boards. You might find they are receptive to increased training and implementing better screening standards to prevent the hiring of individuals with histories of making bad decisions.

Just saying...

- A Former Police Union Guy.

Anonymous said...


CLEAT reveals itself:

"Here is the bottom line: every police chief, sheriff, city manager, council member and county commissioner should be on notice that if you mess with one of us, you get us all. And the consequence is that when you mess with any of us, your professional life will become an ongoing nightmare."

Anonymous said...

"your professional life will become an ongoing nightmare."

Wow. Those guys from the police union sound dangerous.

Anonymous said...

To Protect and Serve (The Police Union):

DEWEY said...

quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Anonymous said...

Does that remark qualify as a threat?
Just wondering.

Anonymous said...

quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

We the people need to demand better policing policies and evidence based practices in our criminal justice system.

Learn to testify in front of governing bodies where you can present evidence based practices for policing. That's how you change the police... Don't "F-the-police"... Help the police modernize with better technology (ie body cameras), training (ie crisis intervention training), and better non lethal use of force training.

You don't influence people by attacking people... Attack the problems in policing and not the person.

TPPF has an alternative motive for attacking unions. If they don't like a public policy, they have the ability to influence a policy change, but they shouldn't be the only game in town. There needs to be balance in any system and the only way to achieve that is through use of evidence based practices presented by multiple sources.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@A Former Police Union Guy, I'm happy to make common cause with the unions on those issues. But since those reforms are not nearly enough, and since they bitterly fight all the others, there are going to be times when we're on the opposite side. Then, because when you're on the opposite side you get the treatment described in 6:39, it's hard to take the "reach out and give them a hug" suggestion too seriously.

Also road districts and MUDS are also democratically elected, that doesn't mean I must approve of them or all they do. Plus, the various unions are different. The Alinskyite greybeards at CLEAT are different from leadership at TMPA. The Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio unions all behave quite differently, both in local politics and at the Lege. (Those SA boys have kind of gone nuts in the last couple of years with the whole Alinskyite model, and look where it got 'em, with the city in court trying to bust their evergreen clause!) For someone working at a statewide level, making peace with a police union would be like Hercules making peace with one head of a hydra. Without eight other deals it wouldn't mean much.

That said, AFPUG, I'm easy to find if you think there's a bridge to be built. Shoot me an email (gritsforbreakfast[at] if you want to chat.

Anonymous said...



Either that is a direct quote from CLEAT's Police Star magazine, or it is not.
Not too much to parse otherwise.

“Here is the bottom line: every police chief,sheriff, city manager, council member and county commissioner should be on notice that if you mess with one of us, you get us all. And the consequence is that when you mess with any of us, your professional life will become an ongoing nightmare.”

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Yes, 6:42, you have successfully quoted "the treatment described in 6:39." Really. One of us is confused, maybe both, but I was referring to that quote, not refuting it.

Anonymous said...

Would it matter to any of you that CLEAT doesn't represent most officers in Texas? Not even a third of them depending on whose numbers you use. NPR suggests Texas has around 75,000 sworn officers ( and CLEAT tells the world it represents 17,500 officers on its website, but if you ask local union leaders whose departments are listed on the website, most of them will tell you that CLEAT has some minor role but doesn't speak for them.

In the larger cities, most police unions continually call for more training, enough manpower to do more than pay lip service to community policing, and to be outfitted with gear that helps saves lives. City administrators shut down such things as too expensive, just as elected leaders point fingers at civil service laws when they allow shoddy investigations for misconduct because they would prefer to have another DARE officer, bicycle cop, or feel good program to make them look good.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

11:23, that's an awfully benign take you have on police unions in larger cities, which in my experience spend nearly all their energy making sure - either through direct defense or negotiated contract provisions - that it's as difficult as possible to punish cops who engage in misconduct. They care about manpower because it means more dues. But I don't hear much from unions about community policing or, generally, equipment (except, e.g., raising "concerns" about bodycams).

Police associations in Texas are essentially misconduct insurance for officers - you pay your dues so a hyper-aggressive lawyer or three will defend you if you ever screw up.

Oh, and CLEAT doesn't represent everyone, it's true, but TMPA follows their Alinskyite tactics to a T and the playbook cited has had a profound effect on police union culture both at the larger municipal unions and far beyond the state lines. The fact that the heads of the hydra are distinguishable doesn't mean you won't get snakebit trying to make friends with one of them.

Anonymous said...

Big city police unions are often hated by much of their membership but the only thing they provide they virtually everyone agrees on is legal representation. Coming from a legal advocate who thinks a vigorous defense is absolutely essential and an important provision of modern day life, it's weird to see Grits complain about such a group in direct opposition to all his other stances. But I suppose police officers accused of misconduct should be given the modern day equivalent of the dunking test used for witches hundreds of years ago.

Regardless of what you hear about Grits, HCSO and HPD were two of the first groups calling for cameras, with reasonable expectations about their use. They know that cameras will support the actions of officers in the vast majority of cases. That doesn't mean they want their bathroom breaks recorded for all posterity, nor do they think any footage should be secret to them yet available to everyone else as some activists proposed.

As far as dues are concerned, I don't think their drive for manpower is related to getting an extra $28 a month (TMPA) so much as knowing that more manpower might mean more chances two officers will ride in a car safer or that backup is more readily available but nice way to play to the hicks who are only critical in one direction when it comes to police. But even TMPA only sort of represents about 20,000 officers so the two heads of this hydra you speak of put together cover less than half the body you assign some glorified status to as a result.

And using tactics like other right wing and left wing groups use to get a fair shake sounds so horrible, the bottom line being that police have every bit as much a right to a defense against false accusations or mistakes as anyone else. Why does this upset you so much? In cases where some officer is crooked or malicious, the best lawyers aren't going to get him off the hook if the agency does their job correctly. Perhaps you should focus your wrath on that because whatever you imagine exists of a "thin blue line" for true criminal behavior is generally unfounded. Most cops I know hate those rare bad apples more than you ever will, the difference being that they don't also hate those who make human mistakes on occasion or fall short of perfection.

Anonymous said...

Alinskyite police unions are more than just uniform policeman they are holding our justice system hostage. From the policeman on the street to DA's and judges are addicted to this cult of evil corruption. They have deceptively created an elitist group that is exempt from the laws of the land.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

5:07, I'm fine with cops having vigorous legal representation, I only object to special rules that give them more rights than others, to the detriment of accountability. There are competing values in the system. I've never said a vigorous legal defense is all that matters in the civilian context, and it's not true for cops, either.

On CLEAT and TMPA, first, they'd dispute your numbers, though I think you're probably closer to right. Second, once you add in the handful of large independents who, as you suggest, also embrace Alinskyite tactics (and in the case of Dallas and Houston formally ally with TMPA on legislative questions), I'm not sure what you think that line of argument proves. Not much, IMO.