Does the Police Disciplinary Process Protect Bad Cops?
ANCHORAGE - As we learn more about what the Anchorage Police Department knew about former police officer and convicted serial rapist Anthony Rollins, questions are being raised concerning whether bad cops are being protected.
We learned cops are disciplined on a case-by-case basis, in which both the union and police supervisors have to determine how severe each incident is before making a decision on how to deal with it.
According to court documents former cop Anthony Rollins had been having sex while on duty for years. His victims say APD should have addressed that history of misconduct before he sexually assaulted multiple women. “We were weren't able to make criminal cases and [the misconduct] did not result in termination,” said Chief Mark Mew. “I can't get into the details of why they might or might not have; that's for trial, but it wasn't for lack of trying.”
In dealing with problem officers, Mew says if it appears on its face that it's a criminal violation, detectives will work the case; if it appears that it’s merely a policy violation than it’s usually Internal Affairs that will handle the case.
Internal violations follow what's called a progressive discipline plan. But it depends on the violation. “The first time you’re going to get a oral reprimand; you get another [violation] then it's a written reprimand,” said Mew. “You’re going to get several days off without pay and transferred out of the detective unit; the next time you’re fired.”
The Anchorage Police Department Employee Association can intervene on the behalf of any of the 500 police employees it represents and file a grievance. But the union says it will step in to remove someone.
“We are not afraid to approach those employees and recommend that they voluntarily separate themselves from the police department, and we've done so,” said APDEA president Derek Hsieh.
But police and union reps say Rollins was an anomaly. “Anthony Rollins case is criminal and I think it would be unfair to characterize employees with performances issues or minor misconduct-type problems and put them in the same realm with somebody like Anthony,” said Hsieh.
Hsieh says it’s his understanding Rollins never approached the union for representation during any of his policy misconducts or discipline and in the past three years, no officer has been fired.