Judge sides with DPD union over use of body cameras

DENVER –The union representing most DPD officers is celebrating a court victory over the use of body cameras.

The Denver Police Protective Association argued that the use of cameras is a matter of contract negotiations and wanted to discuss their implementation with the city.

According to the judge’s ruling obtained by 9Wants to Know, the city refused to negotiate and implemented the policy in 2015. The PPA sued. Monday, a Denver district court judge sided with the union.

The PPA told 9Wants to Know it’s not asking to stop using the body-worn camera, but contends it’s a piece of equipment that needs to be bargained over like overtime, wages, benefits, equipment and call-back pay. The PPA says it wants to discuss the various policies that govern the use of body-worn cameras, including when the cameras need to be on or off and how officers will be held accountable in those instances when they violate the policy.

“We want to come together on a real all-encompassing policy,” said Lt. Vince Gavito, PPA board member. “The PPA wants a policy everyone can understand and everyone is a part of. The whole idea is to create something with this piece of equipment that is meaningful. It protects our officers, it protects the public, and it’s used as it was intended to.”

Gavito said the current policy is convoluted and unclear to the officers. The PPA said there are a lot of gray areas in the policy so it wants to sit down and iron those out with the city.

According to the copy of the court ruling obtained by 9Wants to Know, the PPA approached the city in 2015, saying it wanted to discuss the implementation of body cameras.

The court ruling says DPD implemented a pilot program for body-worn cameras in 2014, but only in police district 6, which encompasses lower downtown. In July of 2015, the city came up with a body cam policy for the entire department.

According to the PPA, section 9.8 of the city charger says “personal health and safety equipment is a mandatory subject of bargaining.”

The PPA said it’s not fighting the use of the cameras. But says the policy should be negotiated and discussed with the union.

The city can appeal.

Denver Police gave this statement to 9NEWS:

“While we respect the Court’s decision, we intend to work with the Denver City Attorney’s Office to appeal the ruling that the Department was required to bargain over the terms of its body-worn camera policy.”