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Letters to the Editor: Think of police unions as fraternities, not legitimate labor groups

Police union
LAPD officers wearing shirts in support of the Los Angeles Police Protective League stand in front of City Hall during a news conference in 2014.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: The paradox of police unions is that they don’t behave like unions at all. They comport themselves more like secret societies. Note the name of the largest example, the Fraternal Order of Police. (“Police Union Contracts Shield Bad Cops From Punishment. Here’s How to Rein Them In,” Opinion, June 16)

As you would expect in a fraternity, there is a sense of cocky otherness in police unions, with wink-and-a-nod commitments to protect a “brother” regardless of his wrongdoing.

Police unions have exhibited their sense of entitlement by separating from other public employee unions. In Wisconsin several years ago, as public employment budgets were decimated, police were exempted from the financial pain.

Most dangerously, the unions’ sense of exclusivity is manifested by their representatives’ truculent, accusatory harangues meant to rationalize and divert attention from violent misconduct.

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Until police unions take action to root out the criminals in their midst, they don’t deserve the respect accorded to legitimate unions.

Thomas Bailey, Long Beach

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To the editor: In 2012, an Upland law firm allegedly hired a former detective to set up a Costa Mesa city councilman for drunk driving. At the time the law firm represented 120 police unions throughout California. The firm was so proud of its intimidation tactics that it posted its “playbook” online.

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Given the Stasi-like implications of this, one would have expected absolute outrage and a complete review of the collective bargaining process. Yet here we are today, impotent to discipline problem officers or to make any meaningful reform. Police unions exist solely to “protect and serve” their members and are willing to do anything to protect their power.

Until our elected officials have the courage to push back, bad cops, to the detriment of all the good cops, will never go away.

Tim Mayeda, Yorba Linda

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To the editor: It takes two parties to sign a contract. Elected officials, who pander to the police and other unions, are gone after a few terms, while the unions are here for the long haul.

A similar problem exists for high-ranking city employees who are not held accountable for their actions on behalf of the taxpayers.

Over the last 50 years, private-sector union membership has dropped drastically while public-employee union membership has grown. In many government agencies, it is next to impossible to discipline an employee adequately.

The problem is bigger than the police unions. Perhaps the answer is to ban unions for government employees.

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Paul Salerno, Riverside


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