Accountability through Police Contract Negotiations

A Policy Link Webinar with Chas Moore

Police contracts can create barriers to just and safe policing or provide guidance and structures that hold law enforcement accountable to communities. The contract negotiations process itself can provide a rare opening for community demands to be heard.

Featured Speakers:

  • Andrea (Drea) Hall- Community Renewal Society
  • Zach McRae – The San Francisco Foundation
  • Sam Sinyangwe – Mapping Police Violence
  • Father Richard Smith – St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church
  • Anand Subramanian, Managing Director, PolicyLink

Download Webinar Speaker Bios

Police Union Contract Project

Learn how police union contracts make it more difficult to hold police officers accountable for misconduct.

“In big cities, where police unions have political clout, rigid union contracts restricted the ability of police chiefs and civilian oversight bodies to tackle misconduct. As a result, an officer involved in a shooting often cannot be interviewed at the scene; internal affairs investigators have to wait days to get a statement.”

— Jonathan Smith, former senior litigator, DOJ Civil Rights Division

HOW POLICE UNION CONTRACTS BLOCK ACCOUNTABILITY
  1. Disqualifying misconduct complaints that are submitted too many days after an incident occurs or if an investigation takes too long to complete

  2. Preventing police officers from being interrogated immediately after being involved in an incident or otherwise restricting how, when, or where they can be interrogated

  3. Giving officers access to information that civilians do not get prior to being interrogated

  4. Requiring cities to pay costs related to police misconduct including by giving officers paid leave while under investigation, paying legal fees, and/or the cost of settlements

  5. Preventing information on past misconduct investigations from being recorded or retained in an officer’s personnel file

  6. Limiting disciplinary consequences for officers or limiting the capacity of civilian oversight structures and/or the media to hold police accountable.

Reviewing the Contract

Campaign Zero activists and organizers examined contracts between police unions and some of America’s largest cities to examine how they make it difficult to hold officers accountable for misconduct.

In addition, many of the police union contracts reviewed contained provisions that:

  • Mandate paid leave for officers who kill

  • Prevent anonymous complaints from being investigated

  • Restrict the amount of time an officer can be interrogated for misconduct

  • Protect the identities of violent officers from public scrutiny

  • Require cities to pay for misconduct settlements

  • Prevent civilian oversight structures from being able to interrogate or subpoena officers.

Understanding Austin's Contract

In addition, many of the police union contracts reviewed contained provisions that:

  • Mandate paid leave for officers who kill

  • Prevent anonymous complaints from being investigated

  • Restrict the amount of time an officer can be interrogated for misconduct

  • Protect the identities of violent officers from public scrutiny

  • Require cities to pay for misconduct settlements

  • Prevent civilian oversight structures from being able to interrogate or subpoena officers.

Use of Force Project

Campaign Zero activists and organizers examined contracts between police unions and some of America’s largest cities to examine how they make it difficult to hold officers accountable for misconduct.

In addition, many of the police union contracts reviewed contained provisions that:

  • Mandate paid leave for officers who kill

  • Prevent anonymous complaints from being investigated

  • Restrict the amount of time an officer can be interrogated for misconduct

  • Protect the identities of violent officers from public scrutiny

  • Require cities to pay for misconduct settlements

  • Prevent civilian oversight structures from being able to interrogate or subpoena officers.