The city council member in St. Paul is worried. The council recently voted to make the whole cycle of “We investigated ourselves and found that we did nothing wrong.” cycle more difficult by remove two officers from its Police Civilian Review Commission. Because of that vote the member is now concerned that many officers will vacate the force:
Some St. Paul city leaders are a little concerned they might see a larger than normal exodus of veteran police officers in 2017.
One city council member told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS morale in the St. Paul Police Department (SPPD) is the lowest he remembers in his 20 years as a member of the city council.
“Police on the street are disappointed and dismayed by the recent city council vote to strip two police officers from the city’s Police Civilian Review Commission, because they see it as the council not having their back and not supporting them when they put on bullet-proof vests to go to work everyday”, said City Council member, Dan Bostrom, who is a retired SPPD officer and was first elected to the city council in 1996.
Not surprisingly, the council member in question is a retired police officer.
Review bodies aren’t supposed to have the backs of or support the individuals they’re tasked with reviewing. They’re supposed to be a third-party that can perform a more impartial review when complaints are made against the individuals they’re tasked with reviewing. Judges doesn’t ask juries to have the backs of defendants. Electrical inspectors aren’t told to have the backs of the electricians whose work they’re tasked with inspecting. Medical review boards aren’t told to have the backs of doctors they’re tasked with reviewing. So why is a civilian review body tasked with reviewing complaints against police officers expected to have the backs of those police officers?
I would argue that any officer who leaves a department because the review body overseeing that department doesn’t have the officers’ backs is somebody who shouldn’t be a police officer. If an officer is afraid of a more impartial review of their behavior then they are probably aware that their behavior is at least questionable if not obviously corrupt.