Behind-the-scenes machinations enable most Philadelphia police to regain their jobs and ranks after they’ve been fired or demoted, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The newspaper’s review of 170 previously confidential police arbitration opinions and settlements found that from 2011 to 2019, the city’s Fraternal Order of Police has successfully fought to have police discipline overturned or reduced about 70 percent of the time, resulting in back pay and other payments totaling at least $1.2 million.
Under the labor contract between the city and the police union, the two parties settle disciplinary disputes with binding arbitration. While the FOP sees the arbitration system as a defense against bosses who haphazardly fire cops when they’re accused of misconduct, police officials say that giving arbitrators the final call on discipline is a maddening obstacle to cleaning up the department. Some of the records obtained by The Inquirer detail relatively minor matters — insubordination, lying about doctor’s visits, violating the department’s residency requirement. But others involve allegations of sexual assault, brutal displays of domestic violence, stalking, lying under oath. The newspaper cited examples of cops who were returned to duty, including one who was caught hiring prostitutes and another who allegedly broke into his ex-girlfriend’s home in a fit of jealous rage. District Attorney Larry Krasner said prosecutions can be undercut by “officers who should no longer be on the force.”