Police Abuse

Boston Cops Resist Body Camera Pilot Program; Have to Be Ordered to Participate

Police unions fight any and all efforts at transparency, accountability.

|

body cameras
Bruce R. Bennett/ZUMA Press/Newscom

When the City of Boston called on 100 volunteers from the police department to help pilot a body camera program, something very expected, predictable, and heard of happened: Nothing.

Even with $500 bonuses as a result of negotiations with their union, not a single police officer in Boston volunteered to wear a camera. As a result, today 100 police officers are going to be flat-out told they'll be participating in the program regardless of whether they want to.

The city's mayor and police commissioner are expecting push back and possibly a legal challenge from the union. From the Boston Herald:

Boston Police Patrolman's Association President Patrick M. Rose told the Herald that goes against the deal the union reached with the department, which he says specifically states participants must be volunteers.

"The selection process must be from volunteers," Rose wrote in an email to the Herald, adding that the union still supports that agreement.

"To require non-volunteers to participate in the program would clearly violate the agreement," he said. "The BPPA would hope that the City and the Department would honor its written agreement with the BPPA concerning (body cameras)."

However, McNulty said officers' refusal to take part was a deal-breaker itself.

"Not getting volunteers also violates the agreement," McNulty wrote to the Herald.

The Herald and the Boston Globe noted that civil rights advocates themselves were bothered by the pilot program calling for volunteers with a completely different concern: They were afraid that a volunteer program would attract only the respectful cops that were less likely to engage in inappropriate behavior.

A good response to the resistance by the police over body cameras came from Massachusetts American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Carlton Williams, who said, "They could have another job if they don't want to be accountable to the community."

On the other side of the country, in Seattle, one federal judge is attempting to tackle the issue of how police unions are using the contract negotiation process to protect themselves from accountability for misbehavior. The Seattle police are under an agreement from the Department of Justice to reform their practices to reduce problems of excessive force and biased enforcement. But the police union is attempting to apparently tie these reforms during the contract negotiating process with demands for better pay and other giveaways.

The attention on the comments this week by U.S. District Judge James Robart focused on the fact that he used the phrase "black lives matter" on the bench while lecturing the police for rejecting a new contract. But what he was saying was fundamentally more about how constitutional protections and accountability to the public are not things that can simply be negotiated (or more importantly—negotiated away) during collective bargaining. From the Seattle Times:

U.S. District Judge James Robart, pointedly reacting to the Seattle police union's rejection of a tentative contract, said Monday he would not let the powerful labor group hold the city "hostage" by linking wages to constitutional policing.

"To hide behind a collective- bargaining agreement is not going to work," Robart said during a dramatic court hearing he opened by laying out a path for police-accountability reform and closed with an emotional declaration that "black lives matter."

Somebody should consider telling the "Movement for Black Lives" coalition about the relationship between collective bargaining in law enforcement and the impact on civil liberties and transparency. Their "platform" specifically calls for the protection and embrace of public sector employee unions. This is what a strong public sector employee union looks like, folks, and this is what they accomplish.

Advertisement

NEXT: John Bolton, Trump's Likely Secretary of State, Is Addicted to Regime Change

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. They were afraid that a volunteer program would attract only the respectful cops that were less likely to engage in inappropriate behavior.

    But none exist, so now we’re here.

    1. respectful cops are to scared to carry cameras since that would force them to testify against the bad cops. Nothing good comes form testifying against a guy who may have to back you up some day.

      1. Police of course never believe an ordinary citizen may have to back them up some day.

  2. What’s their excuse for not wanting to wear the cameras, anyways? Is it still the “privacy of victims” bullcrap?

    1. Victims of criminals or victims of police?

    2. They’re cops. They don’t need excuses or reasons. They do what they want. After all, who is going to stop them?

      1. Or make them for that matter.

  3. If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to worry about.

    Stop resisting!

    1. Seriously – not agreeing to wear these things is basically an admission of guilt, as far as I’m concerned.

  4. My brother’s law firm represents a lot of clients who were the victim of police misconduct.

    He told me that the Boston cops did away with daschams on the squad cars because too many cases were being thrown out due to the video contradicting the cops’ testilies.

    1. testilies?

      Does it count as a euphemism with a made up word?

      1. OK, now I changed the pronounciation in my head. That makes more sense.

    2. Really? I thought dash cams usually just malfunctioned when there was a chance they might record something inconvenient. I seem to recall one story where there no less than eleven LE vehicles present. All were camera equipped, yet not a single one was working.

  5. A police officer against cameras in the comments to that story, but it’s totally not a threat!

    Ja Ka not a threat, just reality. Most people have absolutely no idea of how many things for which they can be arrested, cited, or summonsed, the police have just chosen to not enforce them out of their good nature. Now that Big Brother will be watching, no more. Everyone gets arrested, cited, or summonsed for every violation of the law, every time, no exceptions.

    You wanted the police to “do their job” and wanted complete accountability, well congratulations, you got what you wanted.

    Enjoy!!

    1. You know what? Go for it.

      Not only would this bring light to the myriad of unbelievably stupid laws on the books, it would also bog them down so much that they would barely be able to do any real police work (he says, as if they do that often now). If a lot of those things were on video, it might bring some light to those issues.

      1. Everyone gets arrested, cited, or summonsed for every violation of the law, every time, no exceptions.

        Yeah, I’m calling bullshit — if cops in Boston start ticketing people going 56 MPH in a 55 MPH zone, that’ll turn out reeeeal well.

        1. If cops in Boston started ticketing people going 76 in a 55 they’d be busy the entire day.

    2. What this dumbshit doesn’t realize is that he just told us cops spend most of their time not doing their jobs. He’s claiming that the cops have the capacity right now to write 10, 20, who knows how many times more citations. We all know that’ bullshit, but if it were true, that would mean cops are sitting around now doing practically nothing for most of their shifts.

      1. Same metro as the one where a person went to the police to implicate some guy named Tsarnaev in a murder and the cop said “It will be easier to catch him the next time he does something rather than investigate the open murder case on which this person is giving us a lead.”

        Also, same metro where cops went ape shit over Lite Brites.

        Never forget.

        1. Cite? Not that I dont believe you but Id love to hear more about it. I lived in Boston during the marathon bombing and hadnt heard that.

          Im guessing the Lite Brite freakout was back in the 90s? I was still an innocent lad back then who thought police were wonderful people.

          1. The “Lite Brite” line was probably a reference to the 2007 Boston Bomb Scare. Cartoon Network put up some LED signs featuring the Mooninites in eleven cities around the country as part of a promotion for the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie. In New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle, Portland, Denver, Austin, San Francisco, and Philadelphia, people said, “Hey, look! It’s Ignignokt!” In Boston, the cops went apeshit, apparently believing the signs might be some sort of bombs. Major roads and waterways were shut down as a great big herpity-derpity panic ensued. Turner Broadcasting ended up paying a million dollars to the Boston PD for the expense of investigating these nefarious devices, plus another million for “goodwill”.

      2. I just moved to Boston and in my limited experience most cops babysit construction sites while playing Pokemon

    3. Poloce don’t enforces laws because of their good nature? What a fucking crock. That’s called selective enforcement and it’s fucking oppression. Please please please enforce all laws against everyone and let’s see the whote middle class people get fucking outraged.

    4. Most people have absolutely no idea of how many things for which they can be arrested, cited, or summonsed, the police have just chosen to not enforce them out of their good nature.

      Yes, yes we do. We absolutely have an idea of how many things I can get arrested, cited or shot for.

    5. “Summonsed” – undiscovered past participle or typo? You decide.

  6. As a result, today 100 police officers are going to be flat-out told they’ll be participating in the program regardless of whether they want to.

    But they ARE still getting the $500 bonus, right?

    1. $500?
      Well, you do not expect cops to take that huge loss of income due to inability to accept/solicit bribes, palm asset forfeiture and other free stuff while the video is rolling. The biggest rub of this body camera issue is under what circumstances will cops be able to turn it off. Expect no or ineffective policies as to penalties for cops who break the equipment and turn it off intentionally to avoid observation?

      Do cops declare the value of all of those free meals on their income taxes? Could put a dent in the national debt.

  7. Molly . I can see what your saying… Samuel `s c0mment is unimaginable… last monday I got a great new Infiniti after bringing in $6142 this past month and-also, $10k lass month . without a question it is the most comfortable work I’ve had . I began this 5 months ago and straight away began to make over $81 p/h

    +_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+ http://www.factoryofincome.com

  8. “The selection process must be from volunteers,” Rose wrote in an email to the Herald, adding that the union still supports that agreement.

    All cops are, by definition, volunteers.

    /harry reid made your bed, now you get to sleep in it.

    1. Smell isn’t everything.

    2. Boston Chicken

      1. Boston Salute (middle finga)

  9. The attention on the comments this week by U.S. District Judge James Robart focused on the fact that he used the phrase “black lives matter” on the bench while lecturing the police for rejecting a new contract.

    You cannot fight bias with bias.

  10. I hope every petty law is enforced, then (maybe?) people will vote better?

  11. They were afraid that a volunteer program would attract only the respectful cops that were less likely to engage in inappropriate behavior.

    And they were right. 100% of those cops volunteered … all zero of them.

  12. Pass a law to the effect that police testimony is not admissible in court without video corroboration.

    Or, rather, propose such a law and sit back and watch the police union(s) have a complete meltdown.

    1. I do feel that this would be a pretty effective way to go about it.

  13. Don’t know whether it’s true but I read shootings are actually up by cops who wear bodycams. Maybe Boston cops are just trying to be nice.

    1. Well, that one guy in Lousiana was wearing a body camera when the incident started, but it fell off before the shooting.

      1. http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2016/…..ng-deaths/

        “Surprisingly, we found that the use of wearable video cameras is associated with a 3.64% increase in shooting-deaths of civilians by the police.”

        I think BLM had a demand to eliminate bodycams too, might be related.

        1. This is really interesting, and I’d like to see some other data on this.

          Surprisingly, we found that the use of wearable video cameras is associated with a 3.64% increase in shooting-deaths of civilians by the police. We explain that video recordings collected during a violent encounter with a civilian can be used in favor of a police officer as evidence that justifies the shooting. Aware of this evidence, the officer may become less reluctant to engage in the use of deadly force?.

          Is it possible that inherent lack of accountability is so ingrained, that officers feel emboldened because we’ve actually seen cases where clear video showed the cops shoot an unarmed civilian, and even then, nothing else happened?

          I guess I’m looking at it this way: If Paul. keeps getting questioned (but never in actual trouble) when there’s no video evidence, then when video is introduced and I STILL don’t get into trouble, Paul.’s going to start to feel untouchable.

          1. Possibly goes the other way too: Cops are less likely to shoot blacks even if they think it’s justified because of political pressure, but with the camera it provides clear evidence instead of contradictory “witnesses.”

            “What’s more, they found that body cameras were associated with a larger increase in shooting deaths of African Americans and Hispanics than whites and Asians.”

            I think this could be linked to studies showing that police are more likely to shoot whites than blacks.

  14. Isn’t if funny how we’re repeatedly told by cops and cop-suckers that “cameras help us!” and yet when offered a chance to introduce a camera into the process, they fight it every step of the way?

    1. No, no no. What they meant was the camera issue helped them. The actual cameras, not so much.

    2. I seem to remember being repeatedly told by cops that cameras (even when 50 feet away) “interfere” with their making an arrest.

  15. Their “platform” specifically calls for the protection and embrace of public sector employee unions.

    Interesting. Hasn’t Campaign Zero called for curbs to Police Unions? Is there really that big a disconnect?

  16. “They were afraid that a volunteer program would attract only the respectful cops that were less likely to engage in inappropriate behavior.”

    Seems like a reasonable fear.

    And no one volunteered.

    What’s that say to people??

  17. “Not getting volunteers also violates the agreement,” McNulty wrote to the Herald.

    You’re an asshole, McNulty.

  18. I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise.

  19. The refusal to wear body cams is probable cause to view the whole of Boston PD as crooks…

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.