New York City police to wear body cameras under labor settlement

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By Hilary Russ | NEW YORK

NEW YORK New York City and its largest police
union settled on a tentative five-year labor contract on Tuesday
that includes salary increases while also agreeing that all
patrol officers will wear body cameras by the end of 2019.

The agreement “is a big step forward for a vision of safety
in which police and the community are true partners,” Mayor Bill
de Blasio said at a press conference with union and police

The New York Police Department, the nation’s largest,
already has a pilot program with cameras for 1,000 officers. But
further rollout was stymied by a lawsuit, which the union agreed
to drop as part of the deal.

New York will join other cities requiring their police
forces to wear body cameras amid nationwide concerns over use of
excessive force by police. Chicago aims to have the devices on
all officers by the end of this year.

The contract agreement also removes a potentially expensive
uncertainty that was a hold-over from former Mayor Michael
Bloomberg, who left office at the end of 2013 with every
public-sector labor contract long-expired.

Since taking office, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration
has chipped away at negotiations with teachers and other unions,
but the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association contract was still a
major sticking point.

Reached at about 4 a.m. on Tuesday, the agreement will cost
the city $530.4 million altogether, most of which will be
covered by a labor reserve fund. Including healthcare savings,
the net cost to the city is $336.7 million.

The deal, covering nearly 24,000 police officers, includes a
2.25 percent bump in base salary for patrol officers as they
shift to a new method of neighborhood policing which focuses
more on beat patrols and community interaction.

The increase that patrol officers get will be offset in part
by lower starting salaries for new hires, although their maximum
salaries will rise. Upon approval by union members, the new
contract would go into effect March 15.

The city will also support the union’s efforts to get state
lawmakers to provide disability benefits at three-quarters of
salary, while the union agreed to drop other lawsuits against
the city.

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