Just hours after Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey announced a new policy that follows a U.S. Justice Department recommendation to make the names of officers in police-involved shootings public within 72 hours of each incident, the local union challenged the change.
According to Philly.com, on July 1, 2015, Lodge 5 of the Fraternal Order of Police filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, alleging that the policy was enacted “without negotiating with or securing the approval of the FOP” and that it infringes upon officers’ privacy rights.
“This unilateral change is contrary to decades of past practice between the parties whereby the privacy rights of officers were valued and protected,” says the complaint. “The city unilaterally implemented these changes in working conditions without first bargaining with the FOP or, indeed, even requesting bargaining with the FOP.”
The policy stems from the Justice Department’s Community Oriented Policing Services’s investigation into the relationship between Philadelphia residents and the police who serve them, which Ramsey requested in 2013 in response to an increase in officer-involved shootings.
The results, released in March 2015, found that the department wasn’t adequately training officers with regards to use of force, that investigations and crime scenes weren’t being properly supervised, and that the department needed more oversight and accountability built into its practices. Chief among the report’s 91 recommendations was that incident summaries should be posted online with 72 hours.
Ramsey has already invoked the policy. On July 3, 2015, he released the names of two officers—Michael Minor and Robert Hoppe—who shot and wounded a man who allegedly hit another officer with his car. Per the policy, the commissioner says both officers were notified that their names were going to be disclosed and he verified that no threats had been made against them or their families following the shooting.
“They certainly have every right to file that," Ramsey said, in response to the union’s complaint. “I think we’re within our rights to take the steps we took, have taken, and are going to take.”