Chicago’s New Bodycams Violate Rights Of Police, Judge Rules

Anders Hagstrom | Justice Reporter

A Chicago judge ruled that the city’s expansion of its body camera program infringed on the labor rights of police officers because they didn’t negotiate the program with local police unions.

Administrative Law Judge Anna Hamburg-Gal issued the recommendation to the state Labor Relations Board (LRB) this week, which will have the final say in whether the bodycam program stays, the Chicago Tribune reported Thursday. The new program, which was implemented in December, equipped every cop in the city with a body camera. Hamburg-Gal advised that the city hold off on the program and begin negotiations with the city’s largest police union, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).

“This ruling is narrow in scope and does not have any immediate impact on the operations of the Chicago Police Department,” Chicago police spokesman Frank Giancamilli told reporters. “Officers will continue to wear and use body cameras, which serve to protect them and the public. We are proud that Chicago is now home to the largest body worn camera program in the nation and we are already working with the Law Department to appeal aspects of the ruling.”

Chicago used the program to reach its goal of equipping every officer with a camera nearly a full year ahead of schedule. So long as the program stays in place, the city will have the largest deployment of body cameras in the country.

If the LRB concurs with Hamburg-Gal’s recommendation, however, any officers who have been punished for misusing or misplacing their cameras will have their punishments overturned, and the city will also lose its ability to discipline officers for not using their cameras until negotiations with the FOB have concluded.

“This is another victory for the FOP in filing Unfair Labor Practice allegations against the City,” FOP president Kevin Graham told the Tribune. “The City has implemented policies that should have been negotiated first. This is an exceptional win for our members.”

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