DemLabs blog

How do police officers get away with terrible deeds? Police union contracts.

Check The Police analyzes police union contracts that make it more difficult to hold police officers accountable for misconduct. These are the non-profit group's findings.

Barriers to accountability

  • Disqualifying misconduct complaints that are submitted too many days after an incident occurs or if an investigation takes too long to complete.
  • Preventing police officers from being interrogated immediately after being involved in an incident or otherwise restricting how, when, or where they can be interrogated.
  • Giving officers access to information that civilians do not get prior to being interrogated.
  • 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.
  • Preventing information on past misconduct investigations from being recorded or retained in an officer's personnel file.
  • Limiting disciplinary consequences for officers or limiting the capacity of civilian oversight structures and/or the media to hold police accountable.

DemLabs mapped Check The Police findings with recent instances of police actions using StoryMaps, a free app.

Police union contract details
Click on this map for each cities details from the Check The Police database

'Peace officers' at work
US Law Enforcement Targeting Journalists During Protests
"At least 50 separate incidents where journalists have been attacked by law enforcement have been reported. In these examples journalists have been shot with rubber bullets, targeted with stun grenades, tear gassed, physically attacked, pepper sprayed and arrested." - Bellingcat

I Told Riot Cops I'm a Journalist. They Forced Me to the Ground and Pepper-Sprayed Me.
"I am press," I said. It didn't matter. - VICE

Atlanta police officers fired after dragging college students from car, tasing them. “She was taken into custody. Her crime? Nothing. She was not charged and, after several hours in custody, was released.”

"I was supporting a CNN cam had my creds on police knew I was media. I was on the side out of the way trying to let cops pass me. An officer hits my knee with a baton while another officer had me pinned.I was supporting a CNN cam had my creds on police knew I was media. I was on the side out of the way trying to let cops pass me. An officer hits my knee with a baton while another officer had me pinned."

CBS news crew targeted by rubber bullets in Minneapolis... in the majority of the cases we have recorded the journalists are clearly identifiable as press, and it is clear that they are being deliberately targeted.




Injury sustained by Nina Svanberg. Swedish and Norwegian journalists who were clearly identifiable as journalists were targeted and hit by rubber bullets.





CNN reporter arrested in Minneapolis while broadcasting live on air on May 29th.

Take away
Support groups working to reform police union contracts so police officers are held accountable to the taxpayers who pay their salaries.

Check The Police - How police union contracts make it hard to hold police officers accountable.
Use Of Force Project - How police use of force policies can help to end police violence.
Campaign Zero - Building a world where the police don't kill people.

Co-Founder, DemLabs

Please share this blogDemLabs (a project of the Tides Advocacy Fund) is a SF-based, progressive hub for ongoing technology and creative innovation with free and affordable apps. Donate here to support our work.

Subscribe to DemLabs Bulletin

Share this Newsletter:

Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on facebook

DemLabs applies innovative technology and storytelling tools in service of democratic values. It lowers the barrier of funding for worthy candidates and non-profits by applying existing free/affordable solutions.