SEATTLE — The Seattle Police Officers’ Guild has filed an unfair labor practices complaint over the mayor’s recent mandate that officers start wearing body cameras, City Attorney Peter Holmes said Tuesday.
“The City Attorney’s Office has received a copy of the Unfair Labor Practice Complaint by the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild, and it is under review. The next step in this process will be an assessment of the Complaint by the Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC),” Holmes said in a news release.
“Once PERC issues a preliminary ruling, the City will have 20 days to submit an answer to the Complaint. We look forward to defending the legality of the Executive Order before PERC and, if necessary, in the courts. The legal proceedings will likely highlight the overwhelming interest that the people of Seattle have in expeditious implementation of this body-worn video program, a program that protects everyone involved when SPD officers engage in difficult and dangerous encounters leading to the use of force.”
On Saturday, all Seattle bicycle patrol officers began wearing body cameras. Other units are to follow.
The vice president of the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild, Sgt. Richard O’Neil, he says body cameras would not have prevented the death of Seattle mom Charleena Lyles in June when she was shot by officers in her apartment after she had called to report a burglary. The officers said she was coming at them with a knives, when they opened fire.
In an op-ed piece O’Neil writes in part, “Body cameras would not have prevented, assisted, or hindered that incident. Body cameras are not the end all be all as they are being portrayed by some.”
A member of the African American community, Frances Bowman says the body cameras are a welcome step into healing the relationship between police and the community.
“I think it’ll give the community some comfort. There are too many people that are dying and not enough being done about it, and with the transparency of the body cameras we will be able to at least know what we’re dealing with and then move forward,” said Bowman.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray says the body cameras will help hold police officers accountable and provide a public record for the community.
“We can no longer depress Seattle of this important tool to create a more detailed record of what happens during critical instances,” said Murray.
Mayor Murray’s executive order adds Seattle to a list of major cities like Oakland; Denver; Atlanta; Washington, D.C.; and Detroit, and localities like Spokane that currently have cameras on officers.