Police unions have too much power. It’s time to hold them accountable.

6 Ways Police Union Contracts Block Accountability

Many police union contracts create arbitrary deadlines that disqualify misconduct complaints if they are submitted a few months after an incident occurs, or if the city takes longer than a predetermined time limit to investigate the officers. For example, Hialeah’s police union contract disqualifies complaints from resulting in “any disciplinary action” if it takes longer than two months to investigate them. Additionally, police union contracts often disqualify complaints that are submitted anonymously or without sworn affidavit. In Bridgeport, CT the police union contract disqualifies complaints unless they are “sworn before an official authorized to administer oaths.”
Many police union contracts prevent cities from interrogating police officers immediately after being involved in an incident or otherwise restrict how, when, or where officers can be interrogated. For example, officers in Louisiana are given 14 days after shooting someone to get their story straight before they can be questioned about it.
Many police union contracts limit disciplinary consequences for officers, allow officers to overturn discipline through arbitration, or restrict the capacity of civilian oversight structures or the media to hold police accountable. For example, Austin’s police union contract prevents the community oversight structure from independently investigating police misconduct and Portland’s police union contract limits police discipline to options “least likely to embarrass the officer.”
Many police union contracts give officers who commit misconduct access to information that civilians do not get prior to being interrogated. For example, officers in Florida are given the names of everyone who accused them of misconduct as well as the body camera footage - and all other evidence - prior to being questioned.
Many police union contracts require communities and cities pay costs related to police misconduct. These costs include giving officers paid leave while under investigation, paying legal fees and the paying the cost of settlements for misconduct lawsuits. For example, Minneapolis’s police union contract requires officers be placed on a mandatory paid administrative leave for a minimum of three calendar days after shooting someone.
Many police union contracts destroy records of police misconduct every few years or block misconduct from being recorded in an officer’s disciplinary file. For example, Baton Rouge’s police union contract requires records of misconduct be destroyed in time periods that vary from eighteen months to five years, depending on the type of complaint.