If citizens want their police officers to improve their interactions with the public, particularly in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, they need to look more closely at a city’s contract with their local police officers’ union.
Police policies are one thing, Chas Moore, executive director of the Austin Justice Coalition told Texas Standard on Monday. But if residents want real change, they need to work to change the wording deep inside police contracts that sets out a department’s procedures.
“The policing contract is the string and the hand that is guiding those policies,” Moore said. “You can have all the policies in the world that set the rules up and the guidelines about how a police department should run, but the policing contract talks about if an officer does get in trouble they can only be suspended for these amount of days.”
Demand that city leaders alter the contract and you will begin to see reform, he said. In 2018, Moore’s group was part of the contract negotiation between the city of Austin and its officers’ union, and while the resulting contract did not include all of his group’s demands, there were provisions made for more transparency from the department.
“Logically to the average person, the average citizen on the street, if a cop does something egregious we think they should be suspended immediately,” he said.
But how a police officer is disciplined is spelled out in the police contract: “The details hidden in the contract is why so many of these officers have their jobs.”
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