The Wandering Officer

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 21:04..
Институт проблем правоприменения
Ben Grunwald

On Wednesday, June 19, 2019, at 18:00, Ben Grunwald, Assistant Professor, Duke Law School will make a presentation on "The Wandering Officer". 

“Wandering officers” are law enforcement officers fired by one department, sometimes for serious misconduct, who then find work at another agency. Experts within the policing community hold wildly disparate views about the extent and character of this phenomenon. Some insist that wandering officers are everywhere—and possibly increasingly so—and that they’re dangerous. Others, however, maintain that critics cherry-pick rare and egregious anecdotes that distort broader realities. In the absence of systematic data, we simply don’t know how common wandering officers really are or how much of a threat they pose, nor can we know whether and how to address the issue through policy reform.
In this Article, we conduct the first systematic investigation of wandering officers and possibly the largest quantitative study of police misconduct of any kind. We introduce a novel dataset of all 77,000 full-time law enforcement officers employed by almost 500 different agencies in the State of Florida over a 30-year period. We report three principal findings. First, in any given year, at least 1,600 officers who were previously fired—composing 4 percent of all officers in the State—work for Florida agencies. Second, officers who were fired from their last job face difficulty finding work. When they do, it takes them a long time, and they tend to move to smaller agencies with fewer resources in areas with larger communities of color. Interestingly, though, this pattern does not hold for officers who were fired earlier in their careers. Third, wandering officers do pose serious risks. They are far more likely than both rookies and veterans who have never been fired to be fired from their next job or to be accused of a “moral character violation.” Although we cannot confidently establish why wandering officers are hired despite these risks, we consider several plausible explanations and potential policy responses to each.