The Arizona Highway Patrol Association (AHPA) is commemorating its’ long history as a partner with the Department of Public Safety (DPS) in advancing the quality of life for DPS employees, serving our community, and in remembering our fallen DPS Officers.  This commemoration is being done with the availability of two challenge coins.

In case some of you are wondering what a challenge coin is or its background.  Challenge coins are a tradition that is still very strong in the military and law enforcement.  Challenge coins first surfaced during the World War I era.  The practice of carrying a coin designed specifically for a unit was popular with the Army Special Forces.  Carrying the coin at all times and presenting it when “challenged” to prove affiliation with that unit resulted in a number of consequences for those who could not produce a coin – the most popular required the solider to buy a round of drinks.  The practice continues to be popular today.  Many military members, law enforcement employees, and a variety of others collect these coins.  AHPA is adding to the spectrum of available challenge coins with its AHPA organization coin and the DPS Officer Memorial coin.

The first challenge coin is the AHPA organization coin and is available now through district representatives and board members.  The purchase price per coin is eight dollars.

The AHPA organization coin symbolizes the AHPA”s commitment since 1958 to DPS employees – members and non-members – with its logo “Dedicated to DPS Employees”.   The AHPA continues working for all DPS employees to ensure everyone understand that the statewide public safety role of the DPS includes a joint effort of sworn employees and public safety support employees (civilian employees).

On the back of the AHPA organization coin is the AHPA’s concept of the DPS “Statewide Police and Support Services” role along with the DPS motto “Courteous Vigilance” we all use in fulfilling that role.  Through its’ concept “Statewide Police and Support Services” the AHPA is telling everyone about the critical responsibility DPS employees have in Arizona’s public safety.   The AHPA understands and helps support this DPS responsibility and is expressing to the legislature, the Governor, and the public the importance of DPS impact on the State of Arizona and the United States.  To date the DPS has and continues to be a benchmark law enforcement and public safety agency used by other states and countries.  The coin represents this with the DPS shoulder patch and badge under the flying flags of Arizona and the United States of America.  The AHPA in creating the coin did not want to forget about the fact that the United States will most likely always have Untied States military troops deployed somewhere in the world.  Therefore, the yellow ribbon included on the coin is to honor and always remember these troops and symbolize our hopes for their safe return home.

The second challege coin is a DPS Memorial Tenth Year Anniversary commemorative challenge coin which will be available at the May 2008 DPS Fallen Officers’ Memorial Ceremony.  This coin will be a limited edition coin with a purchase price of ten dollars per coin.  Once all of the coins are sold, no additional coins will be cast.  Through the coin sales, any money received in excess of the cost of the AHPA purchasing the coins, will go directly into the Monument Fund.  This is a fund created to pay for any upkeep and maintenace cost for the monument.  Such as last year when the AHPA had all of the plaues cleaned and re-surfaced as well as having the artist clean and seal the statue finish or to help pay for annual memorial event cost.  For more information and history about the monument to DPS fallen officers, refer to Vickie Williams’ article “History of the Creation of the DPS Officer Monument & Memorial” in this magazine.

The tenth year anniversary memorial challenge coin has the DPS officer’s badge on the front with an overlying rose in remembrance of DPS fallen officers.  The words “In Memory Of Those Who Made The Ultimate Sacrifice” surround the outer edge of the coin and remind us of that fact.   The scroll under the badge is left blank.  This is so that the person purchasing the coin has the choice of leaving it blank to remember all of our fallen DPS officers or to have the badge number engraved on the scroll of the fallen officer they wish to individually commemorate.

The back of the coin has a likeness of the monument’s officer statue with the AHPA logo and DPS patch on each side of the statue.  This reflects the partnership between the AHPA and the DPS in establishing the monument and their efforts annually in holding a ceremony at the monument to remember the DPS fallen officers.  These joint efforts have been a ten year process to date since the dedication of the monument in 1998.  The bottom edge of the coin depicts that ten year span of “1998-2008”.  The words “To Officers Past – A Tribute, To Officers Present – A Reminder, To Officers Yet to Come – A Legacy” surround the edge of the coin and come directly from the words engraved on the monument to remind us all of the ultimate sacrifice of these DPS fallen officers.

Please join in commemorating the important role of the DPS sworn and public safety support employees in statewide public safety with the AHPA’s partnership in representing all DPS employees’ interests while remembering our fallen DPS officers.

Article written by/or information provided by tcamo

by Detective Bob Gilbert

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