Thursday, December 14, 2017

Uncharted territory: Rejected police union contract leaves many open questions

The Austin City Council last night unanimously voted against accepting a police-union contract - one that took almost 8 months to negotiate and was approved by 85% of union members - after more than 150 reform supporters, including your correspondent, spoke at a special called meeting to oppose the current version and demand accountability reforms. (More than 220 people signed up to speak against the contract, but the hearing lasted seven hours, late into the evening, and many people had to go home.) See coverage from:
These accounts entirely underestimate the import of this vote. Austin's City Council hasn't voted against a union-ratified police contract, ever. Nor have any other American city rejected a union contract on accountability grounds, as far as I can tell. (In Portland, when civil rights advocates protested their contract, they were pepper sprayed and sent on their way.)

Crowd who stayed for the vote at end of a 7-hour meeting
The vote creates, for the first time in two decades, an opportunity to improve police oversight in Austin, which was ineffective at best and a public embarrassment at worst. None of the local coverage has effectively plumbed the depths of the issues at stake, typically portraying one young activist - the Austin Justice Coalition's Chas Moore - as some lone-wolf critic instead of the voice of a massive, city-wide accountability movement.

Local advocates led by the Austin Justice Coalition (conflict alert: my wife Kathy Mitchell was among the campaign's principle organizers) attended every negotiation session, researched the issues thoroughly before engaging, organized their asses off in dozens of various forums, meetings, and events, and arrived at the denouement last night loaded for bear. 

The Austin Police Association and city management presented a united front in defense of the contract, but struggled to defend the pricetag -- more than $80 million over five years to give raises and bonuses to a police force that's already the highest paid in the state. A core group of council members clearly were disturbed by the lack of accountability measures demanded by the community. (AJC had proposed eight measures; one was fully implemented, one partially, the others were ignored.) The entire council was unhappy that the exorbitant cost of the contract would squeeze out spending in all other areas of the budget for the next five years.

That mix of advocates' frustration with police abuse, coupled with Council's frustration at having so little money to keep the pools open or even add new police officers, tipped the vote away from the deal. 

The union had said that if the council rejected the contract they would not come back to the negotiating table for a year. But there's too much money at stake so I don't see that happening. Their members would lose a lot of goodies, including sweet overtime deals for court appearances

The council's motion last night gave city negotiators unto March 22, 2018 to come back with an amended agreement that was cheaper and included more accountability reforms. And with that unanimous vote, the city, the union, and police reformers move into uncharted territory.


Anonymous said...

More police officers are convicted of child sex crimes than all other professions combined. It's law enforcement's "dirty little secret", and one we are committed to exposing. Police officers use their positions of trust to violate our children. Their victims are threatened with physical harm and told no one will believe their word over that of a police officer.

Contrary to popular belief, child sex crimes are not about sex but rather about having power and control over the victim, and no one in our society desires power and control over others more than those who choose careers in law enforcement.

Police officers are predisposed to child rape, therefore they must be monitored closely for any signs they have succumbed to their urges.

See the 67,000 documented cases:

Anonymous said...

If only Anon 8:23 could provide a credible source for the stated statistics, not a self generated facebook page full of anecdotal accounts. Preferably something peer reviewed by credible sources but given this is the exact same message he's been posting for a very, very long time now, I hope nobody gets their hopes up for a proper answer.

As far as the Austin contract is concerned, I can't help but wonder if the parties come back to the table in a few months with a slightly altered version, window dressing at best, rather than try to reinvent the entire proposal, a large number of Austin police are eligible to retire and may well just leave given the circumstances. I have no doubt other police in the state would flock to APD to seek employment, but the kind of officer the city would get may not be the best of the best given the uncertainty of future negotiations.

Anonymous said...

They may not be the best coming in, but it is apparent the city believes it isn't getting it's money's worth to begin with.

Lots of people do great work for less money simply because they are good people who take pride in their work.

We need less "Sheep Dog" and more service dog.

Anonymous said...

I just don’t see the source of confusion here. The responsibilityvfalls directly to the designated City Management Team. They are to represent the community’s interest.

Council needs to direct a new team be formed for future negotiations and include members of the advocacy groups as members.

Simply this much controversy indicates a disconnect between the City manager and the Council he serves. Time to align interests. Oh parting shot- across the country police labor groups continue to work under expired CBAs. I guess Austin will have that opportunity now. For what choice do they have? Frankly none- the power is with the City.

PS. Not Mr Sensitive but took offense to the dog analogy/ sheepdog vs service dog. Animal analogies seem a poor fit in the current situation from hungry piggies to grumpy hippoes.

Anonymous said...

I work pro bono in family court and the foster system. The heavy count of sexual abuses come from those in power be they politicians, clergy, even CPS and of course LEO.

The hard truth LEO often get a pass either completely or by receiving far less accountability than others in similar circumstances.

Anonymous said...

well anon 10:36, in 2010 the CATO institute had a study indicating that police commit sex crimes at a rate of 67.8 per 100K versus the overall population of 28.7 per 100K.

You could easily have found this out if you really wanted to know.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:49, considering the fact that the CATO Institute was founded and remains heavily funded by the Koch brothers we all hear so much about, I doubt Anon 10:36 or anyone else commenting would consider them a credible source. As a Libertarian group, their entire mission is at odds with the criminal justice system, their advocacy for fewer laws, less regulation, and willingness to embellish the facts taint their take on matters. That doesn't mean they don't get it right at times but even a casual reading of their commentary, slant on available statistics in many areas, not just law enforcement, and surveys just doesn't make them a good "go to" resource as what Scott provides on this blog.

And your original assertion was regarding child sex cases, not the larger field of general sex crimes as your follow up posting, but even that appears to be taken out of context which is why you didn't include the link to the CATO Institutes article.

TriggerMortis said...

I just clicked on that facebook page and there are 1000's of articles and each one has a link to the newspaper or TV station that reported on the case. Nothing I can see there on the page that is self generated, just links to the original stories where an officer was arrested or convicted of a child sex crime. Good, factual page actually.

Anonymous said...

Oh, maybe to clarify my use of the term "Sheepdog"

I've actually seen "Sheepdog" decals on police cars in my major metropolitan areas.

Anonymous said...

Surprise, "Trigger" finds fifth hand news reports and a Facebook page amounting to "credible evidence", I wonder how he'd feel if a FB page compiling the exploits of reformists did the exact same thing. Nice try guys.

Anonymous said...

So anon 2:49 since it's apparent that only you can decide what is credible, why don't you give us a "credible" source that supports your position.

PS, I didn't have an original post so you jumped to conclusions based on nothing. I was simple pointing out that you too can do research and provide something other than "you're wrong because I say so"

JJ said...

This was an interesting read. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Guys, the last newspaper article on that Facebook page was over a year ago, many accounts listed had multiple stories per case, and they included cases from all around the world so a true accounting of the numbers seems to fall far below that stated threshold mentioned above. There is then the problem with how many of the reports, most of them coming from alternative media sources instead of mainstream journalism, focus on allegations instead of convictions, the oft-told comment on the page stating: "All police officers have a predisposition to rape, it's who they are. Doesn't matter if they're American, British, Canadian, etc."

If those facts alone don't at very least make someone think twice about the slant, consider that many of the accounts have nothing to do with any form of "rape" (shootings, assaults, porn, etc.), some not even tied to cops, and it doesn't take long to figure out that someone has a grudge. After all, claiming "every cop" for anything based on such material shows a profound lack of context, which is not to say that there aren't cops who violate their oaths of office nor to minimize any acts they may have committed. Of course some cops slip through the cracks when hired and our system doesn't make it easy to convict people accused of criminal behavior whether they are a cop or not, so punish the bad apples and recruit better candidates moving forward but just as I don't advocate canonizing cops automatically because of their job, doesn't mean I'm going to assume they are all villains for the same reason.

In a country with nearly a million cops, some are going to be accused of committing crimes, and some of those will be convicted but the numbers are hardly enough to paint with such a broad brush whether a few of you with chips on your shoulder like it or not. By all means go after the bad cops, just don't try to sell a false narrative about them all.

Anonymous said...

Not one of those cases is from another country, not one! Show me one, just one, or else you're a liar or have poor comprehension skills. Alternative media sources, again, you are a liar. All of the links go to major news outlets or their local stations. You're either a cop or an apologist who is trying to discount the severity of the problem and the accuracy of the page.

Anonymous said...

Possible clarification of symbols- it is common for K-9 units and former K9 officers to display graphics representing current or former partners on vehicles and POVs.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:29, this is Anon 9:03. There were articles from the UK, including "Number of paedophiles in Britain will shock public, warns Deputy Children’s Commissioner for England", as well as elsewhere. So unless you think Trump annexed our ally, your claims are now disproven, those who want to can find as many as they care to to further discredit you.

As far as the alt-news sources, a great many of the articles were from activist blogs with slants that make Grits look like a pro-cop sympathizer, others from op-eds originating in sources even the Chronicle wouldn't publish.

But I notice you don't fault my claim that a great many of the articles posted there were not tied to child rapes in the slightest, multiple articles about that Harris County Deputy who was never charged with a crime or suspected of anything, he just happened to be executed by some crazy. You also don't take issue with the point that most of the articles were regarding people charged with crimes but not convicted or that the wide net deployed included articles ranging from snarky stabs at losers like Dan Patrick (not a cop), forensic scientists (not cops), and so forth, but the bulk of my comments on Grits have been very pro-reform, not pro-cop, and no one has ever called me a cop apologist so at least I'll have something to laugh about with friends tonight. Believe it or not, one can want progressive reform and expect cops that break the law to be punished yet not feel the need to so greatly embellish on such a wide scale.

Anonymous said...

you don't have a claim only an opionion, you never offer facts to support your opinion

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:34, this is Anon 9:03 again. You are wrong. I stated a variety of verifiable facts regarding the Facebook page. When challenged, I provided specific examples of why the challenge was nonsense. It's easy to disprove single-minded claims like "Not one of those cases is from another country, not one! Show me one, just one, or else you're a liar or have poor comprehension skills." I randomly picked one such "case" as requested. I have never met anyone that approved of police misconduct, not even from police although their definition might be different from mine and Scott's. Just because some people are decent enough to apply a critical eye to both sides of the equation, not swallowing the lies from either side, doesn't minimize their humanity, it enhances it.

Anonymous said...

disproving an assertion is not the same as proving your opionion.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:24, my "opinion" was that the FB page lacked depth and credibility based on specific, often repeated comments made by the page owner, as well as the many cases where he deviated from his core complaint. I think I made a solid case in support of that contention at 9:03 on 12/17. Regardless, the challenge made was not regarding my "opinion" but on some of the reasons I used to support my "opinion", and I easily defeated that challenge using the standard he required, "Not one of those cases is from another country, not one! Show me one, just one, or else you're a liar or have poor comprehension skills."

If you scroll through the website or search using the listed article I offered, it seems reasonable to expect agreement that I met his standard. My other "opinions" seem reasonable on their face but don't let my reasonableness get in the way of any rants you might embrace. If the FB page owner wanted to make a credible case for his assertions, he would list his core statistical data outside of the timeline, so a reader wouldn't need to scroll through a few years of articles on all sorts of topics to find no such data exists there at all. As no organization tracks the specific misconduct he focuses on, his attempt to assign numbers is nonsensical, most of us would be happy if the FBI properly accounted for police shootings.