James Hohman's post below related the shocking story of a Michigan police officer and union president who threatened violence against policy makers when he said: "If we cannot earn their respect we will do what we have always done; hit it with a flashlight until we gain compliance." The president is admitting that he and his officers beat people with flashlights when they don't show respect to them. His excuse was this was merely "cop speak" not meant for the general public, but that's not an apology -- he simply was upset that anyone noticed this threatened thuggery. This attitude and behavior is all too common in our increasingly militarized and unionized police forces.
In Orange County, I recall the deputies' union president publicly threatening to release prisoners in the neighborhood of a person with whom he was having a political argument. He is now a top adviser to the state attorney general. After a DA official criticized the "code of silence" in one case where deputies covered up for a fellow officer who repeatedly Tasered a restrained man in custody, the union sent out a mailing to its members with her picture plastered on it in a way that she found threatening. I have gotten those "I hope you don't get pulled over in our town" emails. I remember talking with the DA official and we were astounded by the brazenness of the threats. If police officials are willing to threaten public officials in public places and bully newspaper columnists and assistant DAs, how exactly do we think they are behaving when they have some poor powerless schlub pulled over by the side of the road?
The union issue isn't just about pensions and finances, it is about police attitudes and brutality. There are many reasons to reform the current system.