LEOBRLaw Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights
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Police officers have secured such extensive protections by arguing that special disciplinary procedures are necessary, as police "must be granted the widest latitude to exercise their discretion in handling difficult and often dangerous situations, and should not be second-guessed if a decision appears in retrospect to have been incorrect." (95) Critics have argued that LEOBRs represent an attempt by police officers to take advantage of their "knowledge of how the criminal justice system works ...
The approximately sixteen states that have passed generally applicable LEOBRs employ roughly 37.4 percent of all municipal police officers in the United States.
In addition to collective bargaining statutes, civil service statutes, and LEOBRs, a number of states have passed or recently considered additional employment protections designed to shield police officers from harassment or privacy violations.
Police union contracts, civil service laws, and LEOBRs provide police officers with an array of legal protections in cases of internal disciplinary investigations.
(122) Thus, it seems theoretically plausible that police unions may be able to obtain unreasonably favorable disciplinary procedures through collective bargaining--perhaps beyond those that exist in civil service statutes or LEOBRs.
(141) Many of the collective bargaining agreements in this study place some significant limitation on the interrogations of police officers--particularly those in states that do not already provide comparable protections through LEOBRs. A few of these limitations are uncontroversial.
Yet in many of the nation's largest cities, supervisors cannot always respond to external legal pressure by implementing rigorous disciplinary procedures because of collective bargaining agreements, civil service laws, and LEOBRs. Scholars have long lamented the apparent ineffectiveness of external legal mechanisms in bringing about reform in local police practices.
For evidence of this objection, we need look no further than LEOBRs, which state legislatures passed after public debate and hearings.
Only 32 percent of states have passed LEOBRs through their state legislatures, while it appears that a higher portion of large municipalities that engage in collective bargaining with their police forces have restricted internal investigations in some potentially problematic way.
For another helpful analysis of LEOBRs, which describes their proliferation and ultimately argues that these laws could serve as a useful way to reform civilian interrogations, see generally Kate Levine, Police Suspects.
at 185 (describing how LEOBRs have added a "special layer of employee due process protections when [officers face] investigations for official misconduct").