Judge denies Boston Police Union injunction on body cameras
After no officers volunteered, the union asked a judge to halt the program until a new agreement could be negotiated
By Zuri Berry
BOSTONA Suffolk County judge has denied the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association an injunction on the pilot body camera program, paving the way for the program to start on Monday next week.
The pilot program was scheduled to start last week. But after no officers volunteered, BPD Commissioner William Evans ordered 100 officers to wear the cameras. That prompted the association to ask a judge to issue an injunction to halt the program until a new agreement could be negotiated.
Associated Justice Douglas Wilkins wrote in his opinion that "nearly everyone involved found it surprising that no officers voluntarily submitted an application to participate" in the pilot program.
"Had the Union mobilized even a small part of its membership, the Pilot Program would have proceeded as a voluntary program, avoiding any (of) the negative impacts allegedly flowing from the Commissioner's orders," Wilkins wrote.
Union President Patrick Rose testified Tuesday that the city violated its agreement with the union when Evans assigned officers to what was supposed to be an all-volunteer program. Rose acknowledged that he told members not to volunteer for the program before the union had reached an agreement with the city. But he insisted that once the agreement was reached, he encouraged officers to volunteer.
"We know we're going to have cameras on ... all I ever looked for was an agreement that took care of the things we wanted to take care of," Rose said.
After the ruling, Rose said he was "disappointed" by the outcome.
"I am disappointed in the court’s ruling, but I still believe asking for the injunction was the right thing to do," Rose said in a statement. “If we don’t fight to preserve our collective bargaining rights, we could lose those rights. If we don’t challenge the City when they violate signed agreements, then how can we enforce agreements in the future?"
Rose said the union is "committed" to working with the city and the police department so that the pilot program "does what it is supposed to do, while respecting the rights of citizens and police officers alike."
“I believe what we are going to find is that the body-worn cameras will highlight the good work that is done by the members of the BPPA every day to protect and serve the people who live, work and visit the City of Boston,” Rose said. “I am confident that the officers participating in this pilot program will bring the same dedication and professionalism to this new challenge as they do to every other aspect of policing.”
Kay Hodge, a lawyer for the city, suggested that the union deliberately failed to encourage its members to volunteer for the program earlier this week.
"We believe the union is here with unclean hands," she said.
Union attorney Susan Horwitz used the same phrase when referring to the city. "Talk about unclean hands," she said, referring to the decision by Evans to order officers to wear cameras.
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said he was pleased with the ruling.
"The Boston Police Department will continue to be a leader in innovative, community-based policing, and I look forward to seeing the results of the body camera pilot program," Walsh said in a statement.