Cincinnati’s police union, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #69, is refusing to have members wear the city’s new body cameras unless they receive a pay increase. To clarify, this isn’t about just normal raises; the union is demanding a specific pay increase because of the cameras.
“Requiring employees to wear BWCs will change several aspects of their job and regularly assigned duties,” wrote police union lawyer Stephen Lazarus. “The adoption of new BWC policies will also have a significant impact on the employees’ wages, hours, or other terms and conditions of employment. Accordingly such changes are mandatory subjects that must be bargained to impasse with the union before they are implemented.”
It is true that body cameras change the conditions of employment in that cops will be better held accountable for when they take illegal actions that deprive citizens of their rights. However, there shouldn’t be many changes, especially ones that warrant salary increases, if cops working for the department are already respecting the law and ensuring that they aren’t violating peoples’ civil rights.
City Manager Harry Black responded to Lazarus by saying that as the overall manager of the department, he can order cops to wear the cameras without going back to the bargaining table.
Black wrote in his response, “Having a body camera program fosters transparency, allows the city to better protect the public and protects officers from frivolous and fraudulent claims.”
City Councilman Christopher Smitherman, chairman of the Law and Public Safety Committee, wrote in response “This is to support our officers at a time when transparency and more information is better…Tying compensation to public safety and tying it to body cameras specifically is a bad idea.”
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #69 president Dan Hills shot back, saying, “You want us to wear something new, it needs to be collectively bargained. The responsibility should increase our compensation.”
If anything, cops who refuse to wear body cameras should be permanently taken off the streets and have their pay reduced. Cops already receive special protections and rights in the eyes of the law, and, as a result, must be held to the highest standard.
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