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Police unions have helped shield officers from accountability

(CNN) — One San Antonio police officer repeatedly used the n-word as he arrested a Black man for trespassing at a mall. Another told a man he could go free if he beat the officer in a fistfight. A third allegedly tried to give a homeless man a sandwich filled with dog feces.

 All of them were fired by the police chief. And all of them were rehired after an arbitrator overturned their dismissals — in a process laid out in the contract between the city and the powerful police union. 

In more than four out of 10 of the cases in which arbitrators ruled on officer terminations over the last decade, those firings were overturned, according to data provided by the San Antonio police department.