We had attended the Miami-Dade County Commission meeting Thursday night to ask Mayor Carlos Gimenez to sign the PINAC Pledge, which I discuss at the bottom of last week’s article.
But Gimenez informed us through a staff member that he wanted to think it over, which we can expect from any politician asked to sign a pledge that ensures better transparency.
So we ended up getting an interview with John Rivera, president of the Miami-Dade police union, who has been aggressively fighting against the implementation of body cams for officers, even to the point where he claimed the cameras would lead to the death of officers.
The argument was laid out in a grievance filed by the Police Benevolent Association against Miami-Dade County last month, which was rejected.
The Dade County Police Benevolent Association has become aware that Miami-Dade County/Miami-Dade Police Department intends to outfit Miami-Dade police officers with body cameras. The Association believes that this unilateral change in terms and contains of employment violates the current collective bargaining agreements as it will distract officers from their duties, and hamper their ability to act and react in dangerous situations consistent with their police training, placing the lives of of the public and the officers in danger. As anyone with knowledge of place training and tactics knows, if an officer hesitates for even a second in a life threatening situation, it can cost that officer his or her life, and/or put the lives of others at risk. This unilateral change will also potentially reveal the identity of undercover personnel to criminals and expose surveillance techniques, in violation of the Agreements and the Law. This puts officers’ safety at risk.
To his credit, Rivera didn’t hesitate to go on camera with us, even if I did drag him out of the meeting and warned him beforehand that I would not be lofting softballs. Another man who appeared to be a cop also pulled him aside and spoke to him, perhaps to warn him against going on camera with us, but Rivera didn’t give it a second thought.
The result was an animated interview where I called him on his spin, but he didn’t seem to take it personal as I’ve seen many cops do in the past.
However, at one point he mentioned that the cameras could lead to the death of officers because they contain a cord that can be used to choke officers to death – even though there has not been a single reported instance of that ever happening.
He also mentioned that Taser is the company the county is looking to use for these cameras, which prides itself on “cordless simplicity.”
The commission approved the million dollars for the body cameras, so now they need to decide which cameras they will purchase.