- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 5, 2015

Denver’s largest police union has filed a suit against the city in an effort to prevent law enforcement officers from being forced to wear body cameras.

The Denver Police Protective Association said Wednesday that although it “generally supports the use of body cameras, it objects to the City’s failure to seek input from the 1,310 Denver police officers” represented by the union before getting the program officially up and running.

City officials signed a $6.1 million contract with Taser International in July that that will pay for 800 body cams for Denver police and data storage for up to five years. Two hundred of those cameras had been slated to be put to use this month, with the remaining expected to be deployed to various precincts next year.

“We’ve already purchased the cameras,” Deputy Chief Matt Murray said, a local Fox News affiliate reported. “They are being set up now and we’re going to be training officers.”

That same day, however, the DPPA filed a suit with the city that seeks to keep the program from being rolled-out until new policies can be agreed upon that “adequately protects the interests of the community and our officers.”

According to the union, the body cam policy planned for Denver falls under the collective bargaining agreement with the city and needs to be properly negotiated before being adopted.

“When implemented thoughtfully, body cameras can be a useful investigatory tool that assists in keeping officers and citizens safe,” the union said in a statement. “Body cameras are also a useful tool for capturing the countless police interactions that occur daily where officers defuse incredibly dangerous and volatile situations with utmost care.

“However, for any body camera program to succeed, the program must be rolled out after serious consideration of the impacts on crime victims, witnesses, persons in crisis and the other events where video footage may capture citizens at their most vulnerable points in their lives,” the union said.

The city attorney’s office said the program is not covered under the collective bargaining provisions, but the police department is waiting nevertheless to see if the union’s suit stands up in court.

“There’s lawsuits all the time, the courts have their job, and we will respect that process,” Mr. Murray, the deputy chief, told Colorado Public Radio. “And we also have things we have to do, and certainly we will react appropriately if the courts tell us to stop.”

The Denver Police Department already conducted a pilot program with respect to the body cams in 2014 and concluded that a quarter of every use-of-force incident that occurred during the six-month trial was captured by the devices.

“Body-worn cameras hold tremendous promise for enhancing transparency, promoting accountability, and advancing public safety for law enforcement officers and the communities they serve,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said earlier this year when the Obama administration announced $20 million in federal funding would go toward providing cameras to agencies across the country.

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