Amid the national conversation about community policing and police reform, the discussion over the role police unions play in facilitating the kinds of macro-level reforms being discussed has resurfaced and now finds itself a central part of the discussion.
Like most public sector labor unions, those that represent police officers work to secure things like fair wages and better working conditions. And like many of those other labor unions, they also represent officers in disciplinary issues, which in the case of police can often involve allegations of excessive use of force or other types of misconduct. This is one area where critics say the deck is stacked in favor of officers and against any systemic reform because of the way police union contracts are negotiated, they say, with built-in protections for officers who might be subject to an internal investigation. The political sway police unions hold with politicians is often another point of criticism, specifically that police unions make large campaign donations to politicians who then are expected to hold police accountable at the state and federal level, which they say creates a conflict of interest.
Today on AirTalk, we’ll dig deeper into the role of police unions. We’ll also discuss budget cuts from the LAPD, various police departments’ suspension of the carotid hold and the federal proposal that would overhaul policing and officer accountability.
TJ Tarjamo, LAPD police officer and director with the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the labor union representing LAPD officers
Melanie Ochoa, staff attorney for criminal justice and police practices at the ACLU of Southern California