City Violated Bargaining Agreement With Body Camera Policy, Arbitrator Says

Tuesday, June 14th 2016, 10:31 pm
By: News 9

Body cameras are no longer in use by the Oklahoma City Police Department as of late Tuesday afternoon.

This comes after the City lost in arbitration against the Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).

Both the union and the City are making it clear they are in favor of implementing a body camera program, but they disagree over some provisions.

The cameras became a part of Oklahoma City police uniforms back in January.

The devices help dispel the "he said, she said" by giving a transparent view of the person police encounter and how the officer responds.

The FOP said immediate supervisors can randomly check the footage, which it said allows those supervisors "to 'ride' a particular officer or engage in a fishing expedition in an effort to find policy infractions."

“If somebody follow you around with a camera all day in your job, you’re going to find something that we did wrong. Our policy manual is 600 and something pages or whatever it is,” Oklahoma City FOP President John George said. “We were all for when there’s a critical incident, there’s a complaint on the officer or there’s just probable cause to look at it because of something that’s going on. We’re all for that."

In the arbitration document, the FOP said the body camera technology and its permitted use constitutes what it called a "quantum change" in working conditions, so there should have been negotiations.

The City argued it had the authority to create the body camera policy without bargaining, saying the police chief has been "accorded the right to determine what equipment will be worn and what tools will be used by police officers."

The arbitrator gave his final ruling Tuesday, saying the City was in violation of the collective bargaining agreement.

Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty said even though the department disagrees with the ruling, Oklahoma state law makes the arbitrator's decision binding.

Citty said the department will continue to work with the union and attempt to re-implement the body camera program as soon as possible.