Andrea Cabral: Unions That Protect The ‘Worst Actors’ Among Members Are Part Of The Policing Problem

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Zoe Mathews

One of Boston’s highest paid city employees is a police officer with six open internal investigations against him, according to the Boston Globe. As activists call for rethinking the way cities conduct public safety, the systems that protect police — like unions and civil service protections — are coming under increased scrutiny.

Former Secretary of Public Safety Andrea Cabral told Boston Public Radio on Thursday the disciplinary provisions in Boston contracts are “very, very old.”

“Particularly so (the contracts) for law enforcement that call for arbitration is a process that is often very, very, very lengthy, and very frequently ends in an arbitrator reversing the decision a manager has given out, up to and including reversing a termination,” she said. “Which is why you find supervisors reluctant to impose it.”

Cabral spoke from experience, as she served as Suffolk County Sheriff from 2002-2013.

“You always have to weigh the possibility that this person will be returned to the job with pay, and will end up doing more damage by their return than if you put in something short of a termination that doesn’t get reversed,” she said.

While Cabral said she’s in favor of labor organization, unions need to consider who they’re protecting.

“If you protect the worst actors among your members as a mechanism of protecting the jobs of all of your members, then you’re inevitably going to become part of the problem,” she said.

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