Ben Grunwald on Solving ”The Wandering Officer” Problem

by Ben K. Grunwald Last month, as Derek Chauvin’s trial began for the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Duke Law Professors James Boyle and Ben K. Grunwald discussed “The Wandering Officer” problem, the common phenomenon in which law enforcement officers get fired at one law enforcement agency to be rehired at another while continuing to engage in the same conduct that got them fired in the first place. During this back and forth, which has been edited for length and clarity, the professors talk about Grunwald’s recent Yale Law Journal article with Professor John Rappaport from the University of Chicago on the issue and the policy proposals most likely to promote police accountability and other social reforms in the United States, but particularly in Black communities and other communities of color. You wrote a fascinating 2020 Yale Law Journal article, with Professor John Rappaport from the University of Chicago, called The Wandering Officer. Could you describe what a wandering officer is and what the goal of the study is? A wandering officer is a police officer who is fired by one law enforcement agency and then gets hired by another. The most famous example is Tim Loehman, who—just a few