Police Union Demands Extra Pay for Officers to Wear Body Cameras

A policeman wears a "body cam" (bodycam) during a demonstration of Italian far-left unions and mouvements (USB, Sinistra anticapitalista...) against the government of Matteo Renzi on June 28, 2014 in Rome. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)

In a not so surprising move, the Fraternal Order of Police – the police union representing the Cincinnati Police Department – is fighting the use of body cameras for Cincinnati officers. The union came forward after the city unveiled its plan to start using body cameras, in a  bid for transparency. They are demanding that officers refrain from using the body cameras until a new contract can be negotiated, including higher pay for wearing the device.

Don’t be fooled by the police department’s apparent attempt at transparency. Unions act on behalf of officers, including command staff. Command staff have come out in support of the new camera program, however, their support of the program may only be a front. Agencies have in the past, used unions to publicly support or oppose positions, where the agency cannot justify supporting or opposing themselves. The body cam issue is a prime example. If the police department stated to the public they did not want to utilize body cams, then there would be a public backlash. The union can instead fight the cause while the police department publicly supports the other side, delaying implementation in the process.

The union sent a cease and desist letter to the city of Cincinnati, stating that officers shold not be issued the new equipment until collective bargaining can decide on new fair wages. FOP Lodge 69 President, Dan Hills, made the following statement: “you want us to wear something new, it needs to be collectively bargained, The responsibility should increase our compensation.” Obviously, this is a hollow argument, as no officer ever asked for a raise when being issued a Taser. No officer asked for collective bargaining to protect him from being issued pepper spray. The argument put forth by the FOP is a blatant attempt to avoid transparency, ultimately avoiding being held accountable.

The city manager was quick to respond to the FOP’s demands. He reminded them that as city manger, and ultimately in charge of the police department, he can command officers to wear the cameras. He added that he hoped it would not come to that and he hoped the FOP would comply. It would appear that the city and the police union have been battling it out over police salaries, in general, apart from this issue. It seems as though the union may be grasping onto any straw they can, in hopes of squeezing a couple extra dollars out of the city. “Having a body camera program fosters transparency, allows the city to better protect the public and protects officers from frivolous and fraudulent claims, “ Black said in a statement of utmost clarity.

Cincinnati FOP isn’t alone in their attempt to quash the use of police body cameras. Denver’s police union also attempted to halt their use by officers in the Rocky Mountain city. Denver’s police union sued the city in an attempt to prevent the cameras from being issued. Body cameras are the way of the future, with more and more citizens becoming aware of their ability to clarify questionable situations. These attempts by police unions, to halt their implementation, are last ditch efforts in their war against transparency.

Sources: Denver Post, USA Today, Denver Post – Union Files, USA Today – Unions.

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