PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The union representing Philadelphia police officers is challenging the department's decision to make public the names of officers in police-involved shootings.
Lodge 5 of the Fraternal Order of Police filed an unfair labor practice complaint Wednesday with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, saying the policy change was instituted without negotiating with the union, The Philadelphia Inquirer (http://bit.ly/1dED1VR ) reported.
"This unilateral change is contrary to decades of past practice between the parties whereby the privacy rights of officers were valued and protected," the complaint said.
The challenge was filed hours after Commissioner Charles Ramsey said the department will release an officer's name within 72 hours of a police-involved shooting unless there is a threat against the officer or family members. The new policy is in line with a Justice Department recommendation that police "share basic facts and circumstances" within 72 hours.
Ramsey had requested the Justice Department to review the city's nearly 400 officer-involved shootings since 2007 long before police shootings last year in Ferguson, Missouri, and Cleveland heightened national focus on the issue. The government recommended intensive retraining in the use of force and community-oriented policing in order to ease "significant strife" between the Philadelphia department and the community.
The report said Philadelphia's investigations into officer-involved shootings lacked consistency, focus and timeliness and recommended a single, specially trained investigative unit to handle them. It recommends that officers receive more reality-based training that incorporates de-escalation techniques.
Ramsey said Friday that the union has "every right" to file such a complaint, but "I think we're within our rights to take the steps we took, have taken, and are going to take."
The union complaint also contends that four proposed changes to departmental policy on use of force were contrary to the existing collective bargaining agreement.
"The city unilaterally implemented these changes in working conditions without first bargaining with the FOP or, indeed, even requesting bargaining with the FOP," the complaint said.
Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.inquirer.com