For New York workers who are in a union, the idea that they will be protected from unfair treatment when it comes to all aspects of their job is an alluring factor. This is true regardless of the type of job the person does, but it is particularly important for first responders, specifically law enforcement. Given the prevalence of complaints in today’s world – specifically with the police – having union representation when there are disciplinary procedures is essential. So, too, is it imperative that union members make certain that the heads of their union know that having a law firm that is experienced in these situations to provide guidance is equally important.
The release of body camera recordings on New York City Police Department officers has sparked a protest from its union. According to the union, the release of the footage – when there is no court order to do so – is a violation of state law rendering discipline of law enforcement officers confidential. The protest comes from the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. The PBA serves as the representative for approximately 24,000 uniformed cops.
It states that the release of the footage is a violation of the privacy of civilians who are on the recordings. The release of these recordings began in a limited way in the summer of 2017. According to the head of the PBA, the mayor and police commissioner are releasing these videos for their own benefit. The goal of the video recordings is to increase oversight, but law enforcement believes it inhibits how they do their jobs and the videos can be misinterpreted based on the limited amounts being released.
There are several aspects to this case that the PBA is using to try and prevent the release of these videos and protect its members. Context and discipline are two key foundational pieces when a union is seeking to help its members and shield them from unfounded accusations. This can go beyond law enforcement and be considered with any job, as the increased use of video evidence can be a violation of workers’ rights if it is misused. Legal advice is imperative, especially in cases such as this when there is nuance in the law. A law firm that has experience in labor law and union representation is a substantial asset to any union.
Source: abc7ny.com, “NYC police union files lawsuit over release of body camera footage,” Colleen Long, Jan. 9, 2018