Police Officers Threaten to Quit if the Public Keeps Demanding Accountability
Faced with an armed assailant at the Parkland school shooting in 2018, sheriff’s deputy Josh Stambaugh ran away and hid while children were gunned down. He was later fired for his lack of action, but last month arbitrators ruled Stambaugh must be re-hired by the Sheriff’s department, and he will likely receive more than $100,000 in back pay. In 2018, at the time of his firing, Stambaugh earned $152,000 in base pay and overtime. It looks like he’ll soon be back on the payroll “protecting and serving” the community.
When faced with unarmed suspects, however, some police officers are quite a bit more enthusiastic. For example, when Mesa, Arizona, Officer Philip Brailsford gunned down a crawling, sobbing, and unarmed man in a hotel hallway, he paid no price beyond losing his job. He was acquitted in the shooting and was soon thereafter re-hired by the police department so he could claim a $31,000-per-year-for-life pension.
It is cases like these which help explain the growing popularity of police reform efforts in recent years. The public is becoming increasingly aware of the fact that police don’t face sanctions for doing nothing to protect the public from violence. Indeed, it’s even a well-established legal principle in this country that police are under no obligation to protect the taxpayers. Meanwhile, when police open fire on unarmed members of the public, officers frequently walk free, and some even continue to get paid.
Some of this is a result of aggressive police unions which make it extremely difficult to fire law enforcement officers like Stambaugh. State laws also have been enacted to protect police from any personal liability far above and beyond what is enjoyed by any worker in the private sector. In short, the deck has long been stacked in favor of both police agencies and individual police officers.
In response to incidents like those involving Stambaugh, Brailsford, and countless similar cases, Colorado in 2020 passed new police reform measures. The legislation is designed to end police immunity in some cases, to mandate the use of body cameras, limit when an officer can shoot a fleeing suspect, and rein in police unions.
As we’ve noted here at mises.org, many of these reforms should have been enacted long ago.
But many police officers are apparently less than thrilled with the reforms, and police agencies are claiming they’ve been unfairly targeted, while “warning” the public that few people will now want to become law enforcement officers.
In August, for example, The Denver Post
Article from Mises Wire