The Texas Observer published a really fascinating report on misconduct within the HPD, and the microcosmic ‘justice system’ that exists for police officers. I really encourage you to go read the whole thing; there are a few specific instances of bad behavior highlighted, but what really got my attention was the information about how citizen complaints are handled, and how easy it is for an officer to get any number of punishments overturned, or at least reduced.
A study from 2002 revealed that, over five years, officer suspensions were reduced by almost half. Earlier in the article it talks about how hard it is to get an officer suspended for even the most brazen offences.
There’s little accountability for officers, and a well-funded appeals system through the police union.
“...Officers testifying in their own defense are given the benefit of the doubt to a sometimes-ludicrous degree, while citizen testimony is often disregarded by default, even when the citizen has no reason to lie and the officer does. Arbitrators sometimes even disbelieve the testimony of superior officers when it conflicts with an accused officer’s defense.
The result is an ineffective, inefficient discipline system that tolerates misbehavior, protects officers better than citizens and retains officers that no one should have to rely on in an hour of need.”
How can this system inspire trust in those subjected to the whims of its enforcers?