PA Case Shows How Hard It Is to Fire a Cop

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Most officers never fire their weapons on duty. Cyrus Mann, a nine-year member of the Philadelphia Police Department, shot three people in just over three years. A 2012 shooting in an alley would prove fatal and prompt the police commissioner to try to fire Mann. Like many police chiefs, he failed.

A Washington Post investigation found that hundreds of police officers who were fired for misconduct, including allegations of sexual assault and drug trafficking, have been reinstated. Since 2006, at least 451 of 1,800 officers fired from 37 of the nation’s largest departments have won their jobs back through appeals provided for in union contracts. Mann case offers one of the starkest examples of how little power police chiefs hold in deciding which officers remain in their ranks.

By the time he was fired, Mann had been accused of lunging at a superior and had been described to a jury by a defense attorney as a “nightmare to the citizens of Philadelphia.” Of the 71 officers who fought to get their jobs back in that city, police were forced to rehire 44, more than in any other department checked by the Post.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross Jr. said, “There are occasions that you are frustrated, not just the police commissioner but even sometimes rank and file as well as commanders, because you’ll get people who get their jobs back and you are completely baffled and dismayed by it.” Former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said that in his eight years leading the department, he was forced to reinstate an officer who was charged with theft and another who was accused of sexual assault. An officer involved in a corruption case was not only given his job back, but an arbitrator ordered the department to give him a promotion. Mann sent a text saying. “No comment. F— off.”

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