City leaders in San Antonio will soon vote on a new union contract for police officers that contains no reforms to accountability processes for cops, because the officers’ union wanted more money before agreeing to higher standards.
Mayor Ivy Taylor brought a seven-point list of reforms to union negotiators this spring, the San Antonio Express-News reports, but none made it into the contract. If the City Council ratifies the deal on September 1, the city will continue to face tight limits on how it can discipline officers.
Any misconduct records older than two years cannot be used to justify punishment for new incidents. Short suspensions that officers do not appeal get erased and converted into simple reprimands on their records after two years.
Taylor’s seven-point wishlist would have ended each of those rules, giving the Chief of Police greater ability to punish repeat offenders and examine patterns of behavior across an officer’s full career when deciding to suspend, demote, or fire a cop.
“The (police) chief (William McManus) and I feel that it is important, but the union was not willing to consider that and they wanted to be paid for any changes in the disciplinary process,” city manager Sheryl Sculley told the Express-News.
The contract already includes a 14 percent raise over four years. The raises union officials reportedly sought in exchange for reform would have been over and above those pay bumps — something that one activist called “essentially extortion.”
Rules concealing officers’ past disciplinary records are “something that activists and a city councilmember have pushed to get removed. The union has refused,” Campaign ZERO data scientist and policy analyst Samuel Sinyangwe told ThinkProgress. “It’s holding that provision ransom, demanding more pay in exchange for a more accountable police department.”
The reform-free contract sailed through a union vote with 71 percent approval.
San Antonio’s current police contract, which expired in 2014, is among the worst in the nation’s major cities on measures of accountability. The organization Campaign Zero has compiled police contract language from 81 of the 100 largest American cities in a database measuring six specific categories of accountability language. Though most of the cities fail on a majority of the group’s standards, San Antonio is one of just six cities to fail on every one.
By trying to trade basic accountability measures for cash, the union implies a desire to link cops’ professional conduct to their financial wellbeing. If negotiators took that idea to its logical endpoint, police pay might fluctuate dramatically based upon individual officers’ reputations in the communities they patrol, and abusing someone’s body or civil rights could mean a cop gets behind on rent or sees their car repossessed.
“I’ve seen no data to support the conclusion” that paying police more will improve their performance on civil rights or use of force, Sinyangwe said. “I’m in San Francisco right now where cops make around $80,000 or $90,000 starting pay. That didn’t save Mario Woods. It doesn’t prevent the San Francisco PD from being one of the most violent departments in the country.”
But as strange as the concept of linking pay and professionalism in this hard-and-fast contractual way might seem, it also appears to be a common mode of thinking for police unions.
Cincinnati police are refusing to wear body cameras unless the city agrees to hand out a corresponding raise. City leaders in Seattle proposed wage hikes to win union support for a modest tightening of accountability rules, but rank-and-file officers voted that deal down by a five-to-one margin. Chicago FOP head Dean Angelo Sr. explicitly told the Chicago Tribune that if the city council wants to end 35 years of accountability loopholes in the next contract, “we’ll tell them to pony up.”
There’s much more at the comprehensive article at Think Progress.
I can’t say I’m surprised by this at all. Cops all over uStates are now dropping any pretense to caring what people think of them, they’ve gone into full storm trooper mode, complete with grinning extortion. They want more weapons, bigger weapons, they want unquestionable authority, they want obeisance, they want compliance, and they will have it at the end of a gun if they are given it.