Boston Judge Orders Police to Wear Body Cams Despite Union Claims

Police to wear body cams

The Boston Police Department attempted to avoid having to wear body cameras, claiming it was a collective bargaining issue and that officers have a right to more pay before being asked to wear one. Fortunately, for the citizens of Boston, a judge disagreed. Starting next week, the first set of officers will be issued body cams in a new program rolled out by the commissioner.

Police to wear body cams
Commissioner William Evans is for the issuing of body cams to his officers.

The Boston Police Patrolman’s Association, one of the law enforcement unions in the area, brought an action against the city and the police department, in an attempt to fight the wearing of body cameras. They stated in their motion that they seek “to preserve the collective-bargained grievance arbitration process” and that the forcing of police officers to wear body cams violates the officers’ right to collectively bargain. The overt explanation is that no officer should be expected to carry additional equipment without it being approved by the union, and that the officers should be financially compensated for the “additional work” that wearing a camera and processing video will incur.

In reality this is nothing more than an attempt to dodge accountability. There is only one reason why police would not want to wear body cameras: To avoid being held accountable. Body cameras are sold to police departments under the guise that they are meant to protect officers from false accusations of misconduct. The reality is, body cams more often than not, highlight police misconduct; and have departments – who do not yet wear them – scared to death. The BPPA is clearly aware of the implications of body cams in a city known for police brutality.

Police to wear body cams
The BPPA fought the distribution of body cams and lost in court.

Judge Douglas Wilkins of the Suffolk County Superior Court, ruled that the issue is not one of collective bargaining, but one that the Commissioner William Evans alone can decide. “The court sees no defensible distinction between the non-delegable decisions regarding uniform, weapons, duties and assignments and the other in this case to wear BWCs as part of the standard equipment and mission of officers participating in the Pilot Program,” Wilkins stated in his decision. Proof of the accuracy of the judge’s decision lies in the fact that when Boston Police Department were issued Tasers, no one brought this before the union for approval. This was an obvious attempt to avoid the ever watchful eye of the public.

The first 100 body cameras will hit the streets next Monday, with more coming down the line. Despite the obvious logic in the judge’s ruling, the BPPA is still committed to fighting body cameras within the department. “The position of the BPPA is that NOBODY in the BPPA membership should volunteer for this program. If you are ordered to wear the camera, you should obey the order and notify the BPPA leadership immediately. This is a change of working conditions and needs to be bargained,”  the organizations official statement read.

Regardless of the legal obfuscation that the BPPA is attempting to portray, the decision to issue and order officers to wear new equipment has never fallen into the hands of collective bargaining. It should be more than obvious to anyone who examines this case, the police will do anything to avoid accountability.

Sources: ArsTechnica, ArsTechnica PDF.

This article (Boston Judge Orders Police to Wear Body Cams Despite Union Claims) is a free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and


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