Tags: Baltimore Riots | unions | anti-police sentiment | New York | Baltimore | Ferguson

NYT: Unions Lose Clout as Anti-Police Sentiment Rises

By    |   Wednesday, 06 May 2015 11:33 AM

Police unions have seen their political clout decrease in the wake of several high-profile cases involving what many call aggressive tactics that led to the deaths of black Americans.

According to a New York Times report, unions are having a hard time adapting to the anti-police sentiment that seems to be sweeping the nation.

The Times discusses the case of St. Louis Alderwoman Megan E. Green, who earlier this year talked with local police officials about forming a civilian oversight board to keep tabs on police activities. The police union was against the idea, and, according to the Times, "backed an aggressive mailing campaign against her."

The campaign didn't seem to do much, however, as Green won her primary for re-election by taking more than 70 percent of the vote. The Board of Alderman approved the idea of forming the civilian committee.

"All that stuff backfired," Green told the Times. "The more they attacked me for it, the more people seemed to rally around me."

The case is not uncommon. Across the country where hot spots still exist in the wake of deadly police encounters — Ferguson, Missouri; Charleston, South Carolina; Cleveland; New York; and Baltimore — police departments and their unions are facing more scrutiny and less support in both the public's and local politicians' eyes.

"There was a time in this country when elected officials — legislators, chief executives — were willing to contextualize what police do," former New York City police officer and prosecutor Eugene O'Donnell told the Times. "And that time is mostly gone."

Despite the blowback, unions are criticizing violent protesters in cities like Baltimore and Charleston. Angry protests broke out in the former after the death of Freddie Gray, which led to the police union president calling the group a "lynch mob."

In Charleston, the police union boss called protesters upset about the shooting death of Walter Scott "professional race agitators."

A public squabble in New York City between Mayor Bill de Blasio and police union chief Patrick Lynch has further frayed the relationship police unions have with elected officials.

In Baltimore, where Gray's death last month ignited violent protests in parts of the city, police officials are criticizing Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's actions. She allegedly ordered officers to stand down in the early hours of the protests, which led to officers being injured by bricks, rocks, and bottles as protesters wreaked havoc. She's also trying to pass legislation that would make the process of firing police officers over misconduct easier.

"She seems to suggest that the blame lies elsewhere, when the buck should stop with the mayor, always," O'Donnell told the Times. "She's been there five years. The thing is an institutional disaster. It's your institution."

Regarding civilian review boards that keep watch on police activities, the Times references the situation in 1992 when New York City formed a Civilian Complaint Review Board. Thousands of officers swarmed the steps outside City Hall in protest.

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Police unions have seen their political clout decrease in the wake of several high-profile cases involving what many call aggressive tactics that led to the deaths of black Americans.
unions, anti-police sentiment, New York, Baltimore, Ferguson
Wednesday, 06 May 2015 11:33 AM
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