Fresh from running-off a significant share of the moderate Democratic vote in the last election, the Douglas County Democratic Party Radicals want to quadruple the exodus by denouncing union arbitration. Senator Megan Hunt, said this week, “… when arbitrators are chosen by the accused and the city, neutrality is almost impossible. In this system, officers who needlessly kill people, use excessive force, or otherwise abuse their authority get to keep their jobs.” The folly of Senator Hunt’s words is so shortsighted and fundamentally flawed, I scarcely know where to begin.
Contrary to what she asserts, if either party disagrees with the arbitration decision, they may appeal. These appeals regularly end-up in a court setting, so in truth “officers who needlessly kill people” are not going to get away with anything because of arbitration. If they are deserving, they will lose their jobs and in all likelihood be charged with a crime.
Unions fought hard for decades to protect police officers, fire fighters, teachers and workers of all stripe from capricious firings or reprimands. Too often, decisions made in the heat of the moment destroyed careers, lives and families. Union arbitration was designed to protect workers from unfairness and injustice. Given the intense anger, outrageous misinformation and lynch mob mentality over the past year, police officers, more than ever before, deserve to maintain whatever protections they have. Rarely does the public have all the facts, and even when they do, they have proven it matters little if they have a political point to score.
The police have an incredibly tough job. Honestly, I don’t know how they do it. Day in and day out, they are forced to face the worst of the worst. These days their lives are at greater risk than ever before. Just as much as any of us, they believe that Black Lives Matter, but unlike us, they put their lives on the line every single day to prove it. And truth be told, there are countless members of the African American community who emphatically support their efforts.
What’s more, the Omaha Police Department has an extraordinary record when it comes to the use of excessive force. Complaints are very low compared to national averages, and they work hard to bring it even lower. Truly they are one of the best departments in the nation.
Senator Hunt believes she can score political points by siding with the Radicals and going after the police. What she must have missed over the last few days are the headlines decrying the fact that a remarkable number of Democratic Congressional and Statehouse seats were lost as a result of that stance. Link that with her effort to alienate every union member in town, and you’ve got to wonder if she understands the statistical component of democracy.
No one wants malicious police officers on the streets and, given the intense pressure on police departments over the last few months, no one much is getting away with anything without a great deal of scrutiny. The point has been made and everyone is taking it to heart, but taking things too far is not only bad for our community it is bad for our Party.
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