When rigidity is the rule

At yesterday’s collective-bargaining session between USF’s administration and the Police Benevolent Association, the administration proposed one-time cash bonuses this year (beyond the legislative mandate) that would be tied to disciplinary records. This isn’t a bonus on top of some base increase but the vast majority of whatever university police could receive.

I’m sure that the administration wants to impose this condition to rationalize, incentivize, or at least jargonize supervision of university police. But the no-reprimand condition on the main chunk of money in the first year of the contract would have unintended consequences. My understanding is that a significant proportion of mild reprimands come when members of a police force exercise their discretion in a situation where their supervisor disagrees with the judgment of the officer on the ground. If the person has met the standards for the department with mild reprimands, then there are two fundamental problems:

  • If the person is on the force with reprimands that prevent a raise — and denying a raise is a significant punishment for behavior — then the university is saying that they’re keeping substandard people on the force merely because they can fog a mirror.
  • If a police officer knows that using her or his discretion is the greatest risk to a raise, then there will be no discretion used. If you’re going 3 mph over the campus speed limit, you get a ticket. If there’s any doubt about what happened in a dormitory argument, the police officer will have a significant incentive to intervene instead of trying education and conflict management.

UFF doesn’t represent police; PBA is a separate union, but we have to watch what happens with our fellow unions, and sometimes attempts to “rationalize” are simply irrational.


Comments are closed.