Law enforcement leaders across the country feel frustrated or even helpless in the face of arbitrators and judges who have reinstated individuals that they feel pose a threat to the public safety, officer safety, agency reputation, and officer morale. This frustration tends to come from the obvious desire on the parts of agency leaders to have some substantial influence in determining the composition of the ranks that they lead.
What options do agency leaders have when they believe that they have an obligation to remove a “bad apple” from their ranks? They can tolerate the behavior and seek to minimize it by “hiding” the employee to the extent possible. They can terminate the employee with the knowledge that arbitrators or courts might well overturn their decision. But there is an often overlooked third option: they can negotiate with officers to separate from the agency in a way that sticks—a way that is contractual and legally binding.
The notion of paying a substantial amount of money to a terminated officer is often a difficult one to accept. But how expensive is it to pay the salary of a public safety professional who is likely to cost even more in lawsuits and loss of public trust?