Why are Military Bad Apples Gun-Banned and Not Police?

Ideas and Issues
Police patrol Delgado Community College in New Orleans in November. MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Annie Flanagan

New Orleans    Around Christmas the Washington Post broke an important story with a Louisiana footprint, but a national shadow. The Post reporter went through some records on more than 200 police offices that had been discharged from the notorious, federally supervised New Orleans Police Department as part of their cleanup in recent years. They found that more than fifty of these officers had managed to get employment in other branches of law enforcement including a local community college, Delgado, where our union, Local 100 represents workers, and other area departments in state and out, including the neighboring Plaquemines Parish.

The story was reprinted in both the New Orleans local papers as well as many others around the country. Many people may have missed it, since Christmas week and Christmas eve are not normally big news days. Many may have tut-tutted that this is another piece of bad publicity for New Orleans and southern police departments. The New Orleans police chief and the Mayor both had to release statements and do press conferences in response.

My concern goes a step farther and more personally. One of the pictures in all of the story was of a former ACORN staff member, Ronald Coleman. Ron was a lawyer and did work in our political department. Walking in the French Quarter to his car one night in December 2006, more than a year after Katrina, Ron was accosted by a group of New Orleans police officers, perhaps for the crime of being black. He was beaten badly. Two of the officers involved were fired. Ron sued the City of New Orleans and settled for close to $20,000 for his damages. He moved to California to get away from the beating and his memories of it. He has been working as a lobbyist in that state for various organizations subsequently. One of the fired officers ended up being hired as a deputy in Plaquemines Parish. The Post reports that he was reprimanded in 2016 for an “inappropriate comment to a colleague.” He was put on probation for 90 days and sent to cultural sensitivity training. His boss now claims he’s an “excellent deputy,” but clearly in 2016 he was still possessed of the same demons as 2006 when he was among the officers beating Ron.

The question before the public is why are police fired from one department for despicable activities able to be hired in another? There will be talk of second chances, learning from mistakes, and a number of other things, and I’m sympathetic to some of the arguments, but not all of them.

Recently, there have been lawsuits and recriminations focused at the military because they are required by law to file with the national gun database that blocks anyone with a dishonorable discharge from being able to own a gun, and as the Texas church massacre demonstrated, they haven’t been doing their jobs well. Why are armed police officers who are fired for brutality not reported to the same database and restricted from being able to carry a gun again? In fact, why are armed police officers fired for other activities that would have qualified US military for dishonorable discharges including spousal abuse and similar issues, also not blocked from gun ownership in the future.

Clearly, the brotherhood of the police are more than happy to give many officers another chance and the results have not been encouraging, so at least let’s block them from gun ownership and make sure their second changes are unarmed and office bound. If Ronald Coleman was still working with ACORN, I would have him writing that bill and getting ready to lobby across the country and nationally to make it stick.


Please enjoy John Oats’ Arkansas.

Thanks to KABF.