WASHINGTON – Today, Color Of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice organization, released the Police Unions Playbook, an online data tool detailing the role of police unions in local, statewide, and federal politics. The Playbook includes helpful information on the role and history of police unions and associations and a directory of “notorious players,” or police union leaders who exemplify the serious threats police unions pose to sweeping police reform. The site also includes data visualizations of campaign donations from police unions to serve as a resource for elected officials, policymakers, and the general public on the ways that police groups use their influence to block meaningful reform. Detailed in the Playbook is an accounting of the more than $56 million dollars police unions and associations have contributed to political campaigns across the United States since 2012.
“As police continue to terrorize Black communities with violence, millions have taken to the streets demanding urgent reforms. Yet too often, we’re paid lip service by opportunistic politicians who have no intention of making systemic changes to policing and criminal justice because their campaigns profit off the lack of police accountability,” said Erika Maye, Deputy Senior Director, Criminal Justice + Democracy Campaigns at Color Of Change. “We’ve released the Police Union Playbook as a tool to inform communities about the power police unions hold, and the predictable tactics they use to preserve it. We hope this tool will help bring a new layer of accountability for both police groups and the political representatives who enable them.”
Police violence overwhelmingly targets Black people, while police unions leverage deep political ties to block reform, disseminate misinformation and racist rhetoric, and help officers evade accountability. They have proven to be one of the most powerful forces standing in the way of efforts to hold police accountable for violence and misconduct and to transform the criminal justice system.
Since 2012, police unions have backed local, statewide, and federal campaigns — including more than $30 million in California, $8 million in New York, and nearly $3 million in Texas — in order to gain favor with politicians and stonewall key reforms. Making this information public is crucial to hold elected officials accountable, as when it was discovered that Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert received $13,000 from police associations after two police officers shot and killed Stephon Clark, an unarmed Black man, but faced no charges.
Color Of Change has been working for years to hold police unions accountable for their role in perpetuating dangerous policing in Black communities. It has issued petitions calling for the removal of New York Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch, Police Federation of Minneapolis President Bob Kroll, Philadelphia Fraternal Order Of Police President John McNesby, and other police union leaders for their roles in fueling a racist culture of policing. After the January 6 riots on Capitol Hill, it also issued a petition demanding that Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police president John Catanzara be removed after he supported the violent actions of the rioters.Print