Police Unionism, Accountability, and Misconduct

Abdul Nasser Rad, David S. Kirk, William P. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Recent discussions of police violence in the United States and the corresponding lack of accountability have shone a light on a highly debated agent opposing police reform mdash police unions. Although police unionism continues to be an understudied area, a recent wave of empirical investigations, both qualitative and quantitative, have contributed to a nascent understanding of the ways in which police union mechanisms facilitate police misconduct and violence. Accordingly, in this review we first discuss the origins of police unionism in the United States, illustrating how historical forces, including racial animus, have shaped the existing landscape. Then, we highlight significant empirical work exploring the relationship between police unionism and misconduct. Thereafter, we review the potential intervening mechanisms, which are employed in ways to reduce disciplinary consequences of misconduct and excessive use of force, undermine oversight of the police, and limit police transparency. We end with a set of recommendations on future avenues for research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-203
Number of pages23
JournalAnnual Review of Criminology
StatePublished - Jan 27 2023

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  • collective bargaining
  • law enforcement bill of rights
  • police accountability
  • police misconduct
  • police unions
  • use of force


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