I hope this message finds all of our members safe. It has been a busy few months for AHPA. In September, AHPA attended the National Troopers Coalition (NTC) conference after rejoining the organization back in May. Mark Haughey and I participated in the discussions, and, frankly, it felt good to know that WE are not alone. State budgets were the big topics of discussion, and across the country highway patrol departments are or went through lay-offs, budget cuts, reforms and pay decreases. Mark and I left with great ideas and new relationships that will help our organization. Members can look forward to more national news from our NTC affiliate. Like our state affiliations with the Arizona Police Association (APA), AHPA continues to have an autonomous voice within NTC.
ABC 15 in Phoenix completed a multi-part series on the public safety retirement system. Earlier this year, members of the APA and the AHPA spoke out about the $1.6 BILLION dollar loss to your retirement fund (Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement Fund – PSPRS). The APA uncovered the fund made risky investments with little to no oversight. As we went through documents and board meeting minutes, one person was to blame – Jack Cross, the manager of the fund. Additionally, it is the belief of our associations that tens of thousands of dollars in expenditures were taken from the fund with no approval. The Auditor General’s office completed their audit on PSPRS, and their report line-itemed all the reckless spending. Understandably, AHPA members and public safety personnel (retired and current) are angry. The number one question I am asked is if the state is going to pursue criminal charges. When I receive that answer, I will update all our members. I invite you to go to the website and watch ABC 15’s segments and the previous interviews we conducted in February of this year. We also have a copy of the final Auditor General’s report for all to read. Our organization continues to be vocal and in front of this issue.
As you receive questions or comments from the public, friends and family, we hope that you share this information and your experiences as an employee of DPS. The general public equates you to their jobs. They do not understand that you are a target for the mere fact that you wear a uniform or carry a badge. Laymen and women do not experience the sleepless nights after receiving a death threat from a gang member who wants to hurt your family. Citizens do not get to experience critical incidents that we have become numb to – like hearing on the radio a critical incident, interacting with a heinous sex offender, finding someone who committed suicide or responding to an accident with fatalities. Though these are difficult to relive with others, it is important to describe how public safety is distinctively different from those in the private sector.
I am happy to hear more members are taking advantage of your FREE life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment policy. Let’s face it – our jobs are not getting easier. Our profession is becoming increasingly dangerous. However, AHPA is here to help protect you. I urge all members to use this member benefit. Talk to AHPA’s experts who specialize in providing first responders the best coverage for you and your family. Bob Jagus, your personal representative, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 480-320-9754. He is able to travel anywhere in the state in order to make sure you that you will have a retirement when it is time!
Arizona’s next legislative session starts in January, and AHPA is ready. As most of you know, Governor Jan Brewer has expressed the need for personnel reform in state government jobs. You can find out more about her “Four Cornerstones of Reform” at http://www.governor.state.az.us/. Unfortunately, some legislator’s views all state employees the same. I have heard some legislators say one Merit System Council should be acceptable for every state employee. AHPA is enlightening the legislature how law enforcement positions are not to be confused with other state employees. The organization urges you, your family and friends to be involved in this education campaign. Write your legislators and tell them about your job. We want them to know just how different you are from other state positions. ALL employees of DPS should remain under the Law Enforcement Merit System Council and AHPA will continue to stress this.
The organization continues to grow and assist all members of the department. If you want to learn more about the changes that have been made to your retirement, what is to come this next legislative session or more about your benefits as a member, I encourage you to contact a Representative or attend a monthly meeting.
Jimmy Chavez, President