In big cities, where police unions have political clout, rigid union contracts restricted the ability of police chiefs and civilian oversight bodies to tackle misconduct. As a result, an officer involved in a shooting often cannot be interviewed at the scene; internal affairs investigators have to wait days to get a statement.
— Jonathan Smith, former senior litigator, DOJ Civil Rights Division

HOW POLICE UNION CONTRACTS BLOCK ACCOUNTABILITY

  1. Disqualifying misconduct complaints that are submitted too many days after an incident occurs or if an investigation takes too long to complete

  2. Preventing police officers from being interrogated immediately after being involved in an incident or otherwise restricting how, when, or where they can be interrogated

  3. Giving officers access to information that civilians do not get prior to being interrogated

  4. Requiring cities to pay costs related to police misconduct including by giving officers paid leave while under investigation, paying legal fees, and/or the cost of settlements

  5. Preventing information on past misconduct investigations from being recorded or retained in an officer's personnel file

  6. Limiting disciplinary consequences for officers or limiting the capacity of civilian oversight structures and/or the media to hold police accountable.