ACLU of Ohio
Policing Toolkits for Activists
To equip activists with the tools necessary to participate in and create pressure during police union contract negotiations.
Posted August 20, 2020
Background & Context
The police have always been, and will remain, state-sanctioned vehicles of violence empowered to take away the freedom and lives of people of color, until change is demanded and implemented. According to a 2018 University of Oxford study (see link below), the protections provided for in police union contracts and the astounding levels of police violence in the United States are directly and positively correlated. Police union contracts protect police officers and help conceal abuses of power, and therefore work against the interests of our communities. While community members are directly impacted by decisions made during police union contract negotiations, the community itself rarely has any say or the ability to place pressure during these negotiations. We want to change that.
Unfortunately, these negotiations are complicated. Contracts are written with legalese. Due process rights may be implicated by changes to employment provisions. Clauses in preexisting contracts may make it more difficult to alter subsequent contracts. While usually available pursuant to a public records request, many police union contracts are not readily available online. There are many different players—the union, the police, the county administrators and politicians—and it isn’t always clear who holds what power when it comes to these negotiations. All of these complications make it more difficult for activists to engage and fight for change.
Study link: https://ora.ox.ac.uk/objects/uuid:d251393e-53e0-4c5e-a0ab-323b49768de2/download_file?file_format=pdf&safe_filename=Police%2BInstitutions%2Band%2BPolice%2BAbuse%2B-%2BEvidence%2Bfrom%2Bthe%2BUS%2B-%2BRG%2Bthesis.pdf&type_of_work=Thesis
Work & Deliverables
Develop an activist toolkit to help individuals in Columbus, Ohio participate in and create pressure during police union contract negotiations. We intend to use this initial toolkit as a model off of which we can develop other jurisdiction-specific toolkits across Ohio.
Specific tasks required for the development of the toolkit:
1. Analyzing the current City of Columbus contract with the Fraternal Order of Police and producing:
a. An explanation guide for what current contract provisions mean and do, and why they may be problematic;
b. A description of who the players are who participate in—or have power during—the police union contract negotiations; and
c. An outline of when the current contract expires, what notifications are required to seek to discontinue a contract, and when negotiations would need to commence if the contract is not renewed.
2. Researching underlying legal questions, including:
a. Due process implications that may arise due to changes in police union contracts, including what rights must exist on either side for arbitration agreements to be proper;
b. What rules govern collective bargaining for a contract; and
c. How, if at all, do home rule, city charters, and local ordinances impact the negotiation process.
- Gaining familiarity with police union contracts and negotiations.
- Analyzing the current City of Columbus contract with the Fraternal Order of Police
- Researching and creating memoranda about the underlying legal questions
- Receive feedback on draft analyses
- Submit final toolkit