Police Unions To City Officials: If You Want Good, Accountable Cops, You'll Need To Pay Them More
from the 5%-pay-raise-for-'not-making-things-worse' dept
Three police unions in different cities have come forward to insert their feet in their mouths following changes to department policies. The thrust of their terrible arguments? Cops should be paid more for doing their job properly.
In Cincinnati, officers are being outfitted with body cameras. This, of course, has sent the local Fraternal Order of Police into defense mode. The FOP sent a letter to the city stating that officers won’t be wearing the cameras until they’re given more money. The union apparently believes any increase in officer accountability should be accompanied by an increase in pay.
A lawyer for Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #69, Stephen Lazarus, sent the city a “cease and desist” letter, saying until pay for wearing the equipment has been decided, officers shouldn’t wear them. He asked that the city cease the program by Wednesday at the latest, pending the bargaining process.
The city’s mayor has already suggested he’d be willing to grant an across-the-board 5% pay increase, but the union wants additional pay on top of that, simply for wearing body cameras. The union insists that cameras will alter many facets of officers’ day-to-day duties, which — judging from other cities’ experiences with body cameras — apparently includes discovering ways of ensuring footage of questionable arrests and uses of force aren’t captured by the recording equipment.
Meanwhile, down in San Antonio, policies affecting misconduct punishments are receiving similar demands from that city’s police union.
The San Antonio Express-News reports that the San Antonio police union demanded higher pay in exchange for accepting changes to their collective bargaining agreement that would have delivered stricter discipline for officer misconduct.
The Express-News notes that right now “the contract limits how far back a chief can invoke prior misconduct in punishing an officer — no more than two years in most instances — and automatically reduces suspensions of three days or less to a reprimand after two years.”
Once again, a union is fighting officer accountability with increased salary demands. In both cases, neither union seems to understand (or care) how tone deaf these arguments are.
Police reform is needed because officers aren’t doing what they’re being paid to do, or they’re doing it in a way that results in civil rights lawsuits and DOJ interventions. The main obstacle to reform appears to be police unions, which often seem to offer hardline opposition to minor changes that even most of those supposedly represented by the union don’t agree with.
It would be one thing if law enforcement was a historically-underpaid profession. But it isn’t. These demands are simply a way to make cash-strapped cities rethink plans to introduce more accountability into the process.
But it’s not always the unions that are at fault. The rank-and-file has its own issues with increased accountability. The city of Boston is outfitting its officers with body cameras. The pilot program asked for volunteers to wear the recording devices. There were no takers.
When the City of Boston called on 100 volunteers from the police department to help pilot a body camera program, something very expected, predictable, and heard of happened: Nothing.
Even with $500 bonuses as a result of negotiations with their union, not a single police officer in Boston volunteered to wear a camera.
If no one responds when asked nicely, the optional aspect goes away.
Speaking during the monthly “Ask the Commissioner” segment on WGBH-FM’s Boston Public Radio on Tuesday, Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans said that a consultant has selected officers of all ages and races from five sections of the city and the department’s Youth Violence Strike Force to wear the cameras for a six-month trial. Any officer selected who chooses not to wear the camera would be subject to disciplinary action, Evans said.
It’s not as though the police union here decided to sit this one out. When no officers volunteered to wear the cameras, the union claims that randomly selecting officers somehow breaches the department’s contract.
Boston Police Patrolman’s Association President Patrick M. Rose told the Herald that goes against the deal the union reached with the department, which he says specifically states participants must be volunteers.
“The selection process must be from volunteers,” Rose wrote in an email to the Herald, adding that the union still supports that agreement.
“To require non-volunteers to participate in the program would clearly violate the agreement,” he said. “The BPPA would hope that the City and the Department would honor its written agreement with the BPPA concerning (body cameras).”
The Boston Police chief saw it differently, however, pointing out that no volunteers stepping forward to take part in a voluntary program also violates the agreement.
Somewhat ironically, civil rights and accountability activists were skeptical of the volunteer pilot program, fearing that the only cops that would volunteer would be exemplary models of the law enforcement profession and unlikely to generate much footage of misconduct or abuse. What a relief it must be to discover the Boston PD has no officers that fit that description.