What began as a way to look out for the pay and benefits of police officers and their families, police associations (also known as unions) have evolved to doing much more. The mission of police unions now includes a variety of responsibilities relevant to law enforcement and community service. Bringing awareness to key public safety issues including police staffing, officer safety, and the state of law enforcement resources have taken a major importance in the list of their responsibilities.
At one point in American history, law enforcement officers found themselves working long hours, from six to seven days a week, and facing threats and dangers in the environment that surrounded them. The brutal nature of officers’ job responsibilities presented unique challenges that made the need for police associations to exist so that they could address law enforcement labor issues. Associations were necessary to find other ways to help make working conditions better for officers by establishing criteria for overtime pay, call outs, and officer discipline. Police associations were instrumental in introducing and implementing job protections like the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights of the United States.
Besides advocating for better wages, safer work environments, and reasonable working hours, police associations have also influenced disciplinary standards and procedures for officers. They’ve also established systems of due process for officers to have their discipline reviewed, which has, in turn, helped maintain the rights of officers who come under scrutiny in the conduct of their duty.
While police associations are sometimes criticized for doing their number one duty – protecting police officers and their families – their work benefits the community as a whole. After all, we are all well-served by having police officers who are well-qualified, well-trained, and who have high job satisfaction. The San Antonio Police Officers Association works to protect the rights and benefits of police officers so that they can be in the best position to do their job: protecting you and your family.