Collective Bargaining and Police Misconduct

50 Pages Posted: 5 Jan 2018 Last revised: 26 Oct 2018

See all articles by Dhammika Dharmapala

Dhammika Dharmapala

University of Chicago Law School

Richard H. McAdams

University of Chicago Law School

John Rappaport

University of Chicago - Law School

Date Written: October 2018

Abstract

Growing controversy surrounds the impact of labor unions on law enforcement behavior. Critics allege that unions impede organizational reform and insulate officers from discipline for misconduct. Yet collective bargaining tends to increase wages, which could improve police behavior. We provide quasi-experimental empirical evidence on the effects of collective bargaining on violent incidents of misconduct. The incidents are recorded in a Florida state administrative database of “moral character” violations reported by local agencies. Our empirical strategy focuses on the conferral of collective bargaining rights on sheriffs’ deputies by a 2003 Florida Supreme Court decision (Williams). These rights produced a substantial increase in unionization of sheriffs’ deputies. We first show that the introduction of collective bargaining agreements at sheriffs’ offices after Williams was associated with a substantial increase in violent incidents. We then analyze the impact of collective bargaining rights, using police departments, which were unaffected by Williams, as a control group for sheriffs’ offices. Our results imply that collective bargaining rights led to about a 45% increase in violent incidents. We also find some evidence suggesting that collective bargaining rights led to decreased racial and ethnic diversity among new officer hires.

Keywords: Collective bargaining rights; police unions; police misconduct; law enforcement

JEL Classification: K42; J50; J45

Suggested Citation

Dharmapala, Dhammika and McAdams, Richard H. and Rappaport, John, Collective Bargaining and Police Misconduct (October 2018). University of Chicago Coase-Sandor Institute for Law & Economics Research Paper No. 831; U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 655. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3095217 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3095217

Dhammika Dharmapala (Contact Author)

University of Chicago Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Richard H. McAdams

University of Chicago Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-834-2520 (Phone)

John Rappaport

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-834-7194 (Phone)
773-702-0730 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.uchicago.edu/faculty/rappaport

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