As the summer is a great time for many to take a hiatus, the Arizona Highway Patrol Association (AHPA) has been conducting “business as usual” for its members. While some issues come up and are solved quickly, others have prolonging obstacles with solutions in sight.
For the past two years, DPS Officers have noticed an increasing presence of ADOT enforcement officers patrolling state highways. Our members notified AHPA of their concerns from the beginning, and have been speaking with administration and members of the legislature. AHPA questioned, “What is their mission?” and “Is that mission encroaching on what we are doing within the Highway Patrol Division?” It was clear to some at the legislature that there did appear to be an overlap between what DPS has been doing for years and what ADOT enforcement had recently undertaken. There is no doubt that ADOT, by statute, has responsibilities with regards to commercial vehicles and registration. The perception by many of our officers is that there appears to be a duplication of effort where more of their enforcement personnel are conducting routine traffic stops. AHPA has recently learned that new ADOT enforcement officers are riding with our troops to “observe” how we operate. When our organization asked the Director about the ride-alongs occurring with ADOT, he had no idea it was taking place. In fact, he had the same questions about the situation as AHPA. For an agency that has been hiring sworn officers at a significantly higher rate than DPS, why is there no Field Training Program in place? It is the position of AHPA that DPS and its officers should not be put into a position of compromise by having these new officers ride as part of the Civilian Observer program only to use it as undeveloped field training. For one, this is exposing our troops and the agency to a significant liability. AHPA would also think this would be a responsibility for ADOT – one that their officers and administration should recognize.
Another issue that has arisen is their desire to copy our centennial badge by using the same center design. FOP was contacted by ADOT requesting authority to use the same design. In a unified front, both AHPA and FOP are not in favor of having DPS grant authority to ADOT to use the centennial badge design. The idea behind the DPS Centennial badge was to have a unique badge for our personnel to wear and have that signified the important event in our state’s history. Having ADOT copy the badge would lose that uniqueness. It has already been noticed that the ADOT enforcement uniform badge is extremely similar to the DPS badge, with the only difference being the working around the center seal.
AHPA will continue to voice the concerns about this issue on behalf of our members.
A little over a year ago, AHPA presented the HR Employee Assistance coordinator with information about the West Coast Post-Trauma Retreat in California. AHPA learned about the facility through our affiliation with the western state associations of the National Troopers Coalition. The California Association of Highway Patrol began using the facility several years ago after a rash of suicides within their membership – suicides that were linked back to officers involved with critical incidents. In researching the facility, it is specifically designed to treat PTSD for emergency response personnel. The program they offer is a five-day, live in program that is geared toward treatment and aftercare of critical incident PTSD. AHPA President Jimmy Chavez met John Crisci in HR several weeks ago. Crisci and Chavez discussed WCPR and the benefit it could be to our officers involved in critical incidents and who suffer from PTSD as a result. John agreed and began pursuing funding through Worker’s Compensation on cases he was aware of. Through John’s hard work with the state’s Industrial Commission, Worker’s Compensation has agreed to fund the retreat for at least two employees. This is a significant achievement for the employees that will benefit from attending. Because the board believes this program is so beneficial, we are looking for funding if any of our members needed treatment as a result of a critical incident and was unable to obtain it through the State. The resounding success of WCPR is something worth the investment.
The AHPA has received approval from the agency to provide new employees with our short-term health insurance plan. Due to some legislative changes made last year, new state employees are not eligible for benefits for the first 90 days of employment. The only exception to this is if the new employee had previous state service. With the help of Pat Madden and Bob Jagus of Pacific Financial Designs, the AHPA has developed options available to new employees so they can protect themselves and their families in the interim. Stacey Dillon has been working with Pat and Bob on developing a flyer we can provide to the new employees just before their official start date.
AHPA looks forward to hearing more from you – OUR MEMBER. Remember, members can ALWAYS send in feedback anonymously, speak with your district AHPA representative or write by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. All responses are shared with the AHPA Executive Board and action discussion takes place during our monthly meetings. AHPA also encourages members to attend our monthly meetings. Our next meeting is on September 19, 2012 at the Phoenix Mountain Preserve Reception Center.