Officers can protect themselves by knowing what not to say

By Jennifer Foley, MAP Editor

Understanding Garrity rights following an officer involved shooting, accident or any other incident where an officer is being questioned about their on the job actions can make the difference between remaining on the force or facing potential criminal charges. This is especially true due to mounting accusations of excessive use of force by police nationwide.

“Today we’re under fire from everybody,” said Michigan Association of Police (MAP) legal counsel John Goldpaugh of Goldpaugh & Associates, P.C. “You have to be careful.”

MAP Labor Relations Specialists Jim Steffes could not agree more. “Our society is getting a lot more violent,” Steffes said. “Some people don’t obey the police officer when he gives them an order and things can escalate if the person is assaulting the officer or disobeying their commands.”

Officers involved in shootings are often unable to think clearly immediately following the shooting. In fact, there are many questions they simply should not respond to until they have been advised by their MAP representative and MAP legal counsel, Goldpaugh said at a breakout legal session for MAP Executive Board Members and attendees in December 2015.

“You’ve got to get to your officer and tell him to keep his mouth shut,” Goldpaugh told Labor Relations Specialists. “We don’t want anybody to make any statement to anyone until: 1. He has had an opportunity to speak to his union steward and 2. To make sure he doesn’t start talking to people and, thereby not protecting his hard fought Garrity rights.”

A program of information and media relations

A complete union communications program has two primary facets:

  1. To keep the entire membership as informed as possible about important developments and events; and,
  2. To convey to the public and to state and national lawmakers the positions and opinions of the organization on all issues which affect it and its members.


Internal communications enhance teamwork, help stimulate ideas and provide the vehicles by which ideas are shared and refined. Media relations give members a cumulative voice in speaking to the thousands of persons whose tax money pays public servants. They also augment the efforts of both legislative liaisons and the union leadership in bringing organizational influence to bear.

A top flight staff of attorneys

Expert, specialized legal representation is an essential service element for any public safety professional union in the modern era. A complex body of laws and regulations governs the relationship between workers and their employers. Many of these are established to protect the rights of the employees. Importantly, the protection afforded by law and regulation is only as effective as a union's legal talent makes it.

attorneysThe following firms perform MAP's labor legal work:

Farrell & Associates P.C. M. Catherine Farrell is the principal in Farrell & Associates P.C., a law firm specializing in Labor and Employment Law.

Ms. Farrell was managing partner of Hoekenga & Farrell P.C., and was a senior partner and former managing partner of the law firm of Levin, Levin, Garvett & Dill P.C. which specialized in labor and employment law and transactional matters.

Ms. Farrell is also an active arbitrator. She serves as a member of both the commercial arbitration panel and employment law arbitration panel for the American Arbitration Association in the Detroit Region. Ms. Farrell holds a B.A. from American University, a M.S. from the State University of New York at New Paltz and a J.D. from St. Louis University.

The unique relationship between the Michigan Association of Police and these highly skilled legal professionals is as important to the union's members as the firm's talent base. Over the years, the attorneys have teamed with MAP's labor relations' specialists in literally hundreds of cases of all kinds providing representation that is unsurpassed by any other union.

 

What a law enforcement union must provide members in today's world

In order to guarantee its members the highest level of employment protection that is absolutely necessary in today's world, a law enforcement officers' union must provide total representation. This means that a complex battery of resources and a broad spectrum of specialized expertise must be readily available, at all times, to every member of the organization. In other words, the union must be armed with complete service capacity and a dedicated staff of eminently qualified professionals who will consistently deliver these services in a timely and coordinated fashion.

Specifically, all members must be assured:

  1. Maximum appropriate financial compensation for the work they perform.
  2. The best possible employment benefits, including pension and medical insurance.
  3. Working conditions maintained at the highest standards.
  4. Protection of all employees' rights, as established by law.
  5. Immediate access to top-quality legal counsel whenever necessary.
  6. Direct availability of professional assistance in matters of financial, insurance and retirement planning.
  7. The strongest possible collective voice in communicating needs, opinions and positions to national and state lawmakers.
  8. An internal communications program that keeps everyone in the organization fully informed, shares ideas, and functions as a two-way interconnection between the membership and the organizational leadership.
  9. A media relations program which informs the public about the organization's position on issues affecting the membership and/or local associations.
  10. A leadership structure which represents the membership's collective interests and goals in the creation and implementation of the organization's operating policy.

Total representation therefore entails delivering full-service in negotiating and enforcing contracts, guarding all members' rights, helping members plan their futures and protect their families, providing the membership with political and communications clout and guaranteeing that the organization's operating policy reflects the sum total of the membership's needs, objectives and ideals.

The Michigan Association of Police is a full-service public safety union in every sense of the term. Each element of MAP's extensive professional services is profiled on the following pages.