Arbitration For Law Enforcement

Earlier this week, a twenty-minute interview with WXYZ News regarding arbitration for law enforcement became a 30-40 second spot on our local news channels. Frankly, I was surprised by how many actually saw it. Allow me to take a minute to share some of the other information I provided that failed to make it past the editing room. The initial topic of the discussion was about the use of arbitration in dispute resolution matters. Essentially, the interviewer believed arbitration allows for “bad officers” to keep their jobs.

I have grown disgusted by the number of times I have heard pundits, politicians, and protestors shout “Unions only exist to protect ‘bad cops.'” I’ll qualify that as paraphrasing but I’m certain those words were used most (if not all) of the times.

A conservative estimate is that we have approximately 10,000 members among our law enforcement, corrections, and communication specialists. Out of those 10,000 members, if they average 5 personal contacts per day, that means our members average at least 12 million contacts per year. Remember, our members are judged at radio runs, traffic stops, and everything in between, but it goes much further than that. How about while in a restaurant, someone needing directions, or at a school function?

Managing Grievances

In 2019, POAM managed 406 grievances. Of those, 20 were filed on behalf of members who had been terminated or discharged, and one-half of one percent of the grievances filed were for those charges. Of those twenty grievances, eleven went to a hearing. One is still pending, five were settled at arbitration, and five were decided by the arbitrator. All five discharges were upheld.

I explained to the interviewer that people agree to arbitration when they get their roofs repaired among other things. Why? Because you can represent yourself, it’s reasonably fast, and it keeps them off the court docket.

He did not know arbitrators are mutually agreed to. He seemed to think we simply bring in an arbitrator the union likes. I explained if an arbitrator leans heavily one way or the other, he/she is not likely to get their cases heard. It seems this could have been discovered in a quick Google search. Instead, it was entirely left out of the news segment.

What Laws Can Be Enforced?

This question came to mind as we spoke – if our members are going to be required to stand quietly as people commit felony destruction of property while often assaulting police officers, what laws will officers actually be able to enforce?

A chief of police from a prominent Michigan community announced recently if his officers are confronted with resistance, his orders are to retreat.

I remember when it was different. In fact, resisting and obstruction or an attempt to flee and elude had consequences. Is it true you only need to report what offends you to be given carte blanche? Every law, when enforced, offends someone, doesn’t it? A supreme court justice once answered that for me. The justice replied, “Don’t get mad at me for telling you what the law says. If you don’t like what it says, change the law.” Apparently, that advice no longer holds true, however, you just have to be offended.

To view the short interview snippets which made it to the final interview segment, please play the video below.

For More Information

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