Saturday, September 24, 2022

The Journal of Steffanie Rivers: Black Cops and Police Unions

Steffanie Rivers
Steffanie Rivers

*Even when there are questionable uses of deadly force by law enforcement officers, even when there are videos that clearly show officers misused their authority – like in the cases of Eric Garner, George Floyd and Rashard Brooks just to name a few – there is always someone who comes to the defense of these bully, liar, killer (BLK) cops.  

Even when internal investigations recommend punishment or termination against these bad cops there always is someone trying to convince us that our lying eyes have deceived us. Police unions have created a wall of protection around bully, liar, killer (BLK) cops. If your goal is to redirect local taxpayer funds to create more community policing programs, powerful local police unions will fight your efforts every step of the way. 

According to The Marshall Project, a non-partisan criminal justice system watch-dog, of the fifteen largest metropolitan police departments in America with a mostly Black and Brown workforce, police union representatives are White men. Only in Memphis where the police force is majority Black the police union is led by a Black man.  

These White police union bosses are roadblocks to police reform while they protect and support racist White cops. Minneapolis Police union representative Bob Kroll called George Floyd a violent criminal and characterized people who protested Floyd’s modern-day lynching and police brutality as a terrorist movement. Kroll also was a guest speaker in 2019 at a rally for Donald Trump. Trump calls himself the ‘law and order’ president who continues to mischaracterize peaceful protesters. 

The police union leader in Baltimore called Black Lives Matter supporters ‘a lynch mob’ when they protested to hold officers accountable after Freddie Gray died while in police custody.

When a Black man campaigned for the prosecutor’s job in St. Louis using police reform as his platform, the police union boss there called this Black man a “menace to society.”  

And when cops are held accountable for their unjustified use of deadly force, prosecutors seem are more worried about trying to appease police unions for the sake of future cases, instead of seeking justice.  Some of them who don’t have the guts to do their jobs and file charges themselves defer to grand juries to make that decision. 

Although each police jurisdiction has its own union they fall under the national Fraternal Order of Police union. Many Black and Brown offices say FOP is akin to a white boy fraternity that’s more regressive than progressive.  

For most union jobs membership is mandatory. Most employees say the good part of a union is it negotiates salaries, benefits and perks for its members.  That same union also represents members who – based on job performance and behavior – should be terminated, but the union saved them.  Yet, when it comes to unjustifiable homicide by police protection from the union is unacceptable.

Racist White police are protected by racist White union bosses. They do things like scrub social media platforms of racially insensitive posts. They promote warrior mindset training instead of de-escalation training. So the next time you get a solicitation call from the FOP asking for donations don’t do it. They protect cops who lie on, bully and kill people. Supporting the FOP is akin to funding legalized genocide of Black and Brown people.  

When one regional police union rep, whose jurisdiction includes metro Atlanta, was asked why there was no diversity on the union board he told The Marshall Project none of his Black members complained about the lack of diversity, because in his union they don’t see color!  

More Black law enforcement officers should to get involved in the leadership of their police unions or replace the union with an organization that better represents their interests and the communities it’s sworn to protect and serve. A Marshall Project poll of Black officers revealed that more than 70% say they have experienced racism on the job by their White co-workers. In the same poll White cops claim there is no racism in their departments. 

Black police officers should remember they are Black people before they are cops. It’s a reality many of them face at work in uniform and at home out of uniform. They should stop supporting the White power structure that treats them like crap then bullies and kills their friends, family and neighbors. 

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex. Email her at with your comments, questions and speaking inquiries. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @TCBStef




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