- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 15, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The Oklahoma City Police Department and union officials said Wednesday that negotiations will continue over the use of body cameras - something both sides support - after an arbitrator ordered the department to suspend their use.

Arbitrator M. Zane Lumbley on Tuesday decided the department violated its collective bargaining agreement with Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 123 by implementing a policy for officer use of body cameras without completing negotiations with the union.

Lodge 123 president John George said the union and the department agreed the body camera program was a good move but said the issue is that supervisors are given the authority to view an officer’s camera footage at any time. The union filed a grievance once the policy was implemented despite the fact the disagreement over the cameras had yet to be resolved, George said.

“We were forced to do this when they decided to implement something they knew needed to be negotiated,” George said Wednesday.

Police Chief Bill Citty said he disagrees with the arbitrator’s ruling but is hopeful the issue will be resolved soon and officers will again start wearing cameras. He believes the department should be able to manage its own equipment, adding that supervisors should have every right to monitor their officers.

“We need to look at it,” Citty said. “We need to go in and we need to audit how the video is being used periodically by the officers in order to make sure that officers are complying with the policies and procedures - turning them off when they’re supposed to, those sorts of things.”

But George said that type of audit could be performed without giving supervisors as much access to body camera footage, and no serious compromise was implemented when the policy went into effect.

The arbitrator concurred with the union, saying in his decision that there was no evidence the union had waived its right to negotiate before the department implemented the policy.

Lumbley’s decision means the department and the union will have to continue discussions. Citty said the department would be willing to work with the union moving forward to reach a mutually agreeable policy, as long as supervisors were properly empowered to ensure officers comply with body camera policy.

George said the union hasn’t set a date for further discussions with the department, but they anticipate negotiations picking back up soon.


Information from: The Oklahoman, https://www.newsok.com

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