Dozens of former New Orleans police officers who were removed for misconduct are now working for other police departments, The Washington Post reported.
“If you get terminated for untruthfulness or bribery or brutality, you really should not be allowed to be a police officer anywhere in the country,” former New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said.
New Orleans’ scandal-ridden police department removed at least 248 officers over the past decade. However, about 53 of them are back in uniform. This problem is not unique to New Orleans. Louisiana is among the 44 states that require police officers to obtain certification or license. But few of those states have a robust system to decertify cops for misconduct, which means they could easily get hired by a different police department.
During the decade-long effort to reform the New Orleans Police Department, none of the fired officers have been decertified, The Post discovered. Roughly 30,000 officers nationwide have been decertified for misconduct since the late 1960s, Roger Goldman, a law professor emeritus with Saint Louis University, told The Atlantic. That’s a small number for a five-decade span, with just three states accounting for half of that figure: Florida, Georgia and North Carolina.
Blue states are far less likely to have an active decertification system because police unions tend to be stronger outside the South, Goldman noted. Indeed, police departments tend to rehire bad cops because the arbitration process favors fired officers. The lawyers hired to review the cases routinely side with cops if departments make minor missteps, such as missing deadlines to file documents, or lack sufficient evidence in the arbitrator’s opinion. At the same time, police unions stand firmly in support of the officers, claiming that police chiefs overreach, especially when there’s public pressure to fire the cop.