Happy New Year…
This is the time of year when we take the occasion to pause and reflect upon the year that was; the year to come; and to resolve to find ways to better ourselves and those around us. And with the Connecticut tragedy still so fresh in our minds, we are this year more cognizant than ever about how fleeting life can truly be. Our thoughts and prayers are directed to the entire Sandy Hook Elementary school community and their first responders, while they continue to search for comfort in the aftermath of such unspeakable horror.
For the law enforcement profession, this time of reflection should afford us a new sense of optimism, promise and opportunity. All leading economic indicators for the construction industry point to steady and continued growth as we finally remove ourselves from the depths of one of the most debilitating recessions of our lifetime. Many sectors of the American economy, from the oil and gas industry, to power generation, to pharmaceutical, to manufacturing, are poised for growth over the next ten years. And that growth translates into tremendous opportunities for law enforcement to establish new and lasting political partnerships that is predicated upon delivering a wide array of value that goes well beyond our providing the safest, most highly trained and productive police agency. AHPA is posing a simple question to our politicians and industry leaders: Can police services be done in such a way that is both mindful of your bottom line economic concerns, while also achieving greater community impact? We are finding that the answer is “yes.”
As with all great ambitions, this task will require our police association, and everyone associated with law enforcement, to step up to the plate and put his or her best foot forward at all times.
Our best foot forward has started with a cohesive legislative agenda for Arizona’s 2013 legislative session. AHPA’s legislative agenda consists of one priority: salaries. A few months ago, the Department completed and submitted its FY 2014 and 2015 budget requests to the Governor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting (OSPB). The request included the annual salary survey, which shows the average DPS salary would require a 20.5% increase to equal the market. The Department’s priority within the budget request is funding over the next 5 years to increase employee salaries. This request is for all DPS employees. The figure requested is $10.8 million per year for fiscal years 2014 through 2018. This amounts to a total of $54 million for salary increases over that time period.
AHPA is in support of this proposal from the agency, as discussed at our monthly meetings over past months. However, AHPA would like to see a more condensed time frame; two or three years, at the maximum, to implement the increases. A three-year plan would require an $18 million appropriation (and permanent spending increase) to the agency for the salary adjustments.
The AHPA has been meeting with legislative leaders, including the Senate President and House Speaker, in an effort to provide substantial information to legislators on the importance of the Department’s budget request, particularly the pay proposal. The message is resonating; however, prioritizing the state’s budget will be another daunting task. Meetings will continue as the new legislative session approaches and even into the session. This effort will also need the help of members across the state. AHPA needs you to contact your legislators, either in person or with a phone call or email (off-duty), and provide them with specific information about this issue. Some of the talking points should include:
- Average salary at DPS is just over 20% behind market.
- Sworn vacancies have increased significantly since 2008 and will continue through 2016.
- Civilian vacancies have also increased as many have left for higher pay with other agencies or in the private sector.
- The state invests a tremendous amount of time and money in hiring a DPS officer and civilian. That investment is lost when that employee leaves the agency only after a short time.
- DPS salaries need to be competitive in a market that has a targeted applicant pool. Competing with other agencies will continue to reduce the availability of qualified candidates.
- A 2 or 3-year pay plan would prevent the agency from falling behind market. As history has shown, a 5-year plan typically never sees completion and even after the end of those 5 years, salaries have not kept up with the market.
You can find your district representatives at http://azredistricting.org/districtlocator. Please also go to our website (www.ahpa.com) to view AHPA’s last pay scale studies that was distributed to all members and elected officials over the last few years. Our studies affirm that the salary increase has been warranted over many years.
Our partnership with police associations can be supremely beneficial for AHPA’s priorities; employee health and our state’s bottom lines. These shared value partnerships and collaborations are proof positive that AHPA can, and are, innovating towards success by showcasing the inherent value that law enforcement provides to the public we serve, and to our members. I continue to serve as the Arizona Police Association’s (APA) president, where we are joined by autonomous Arizona police associations. Through the combined effort and strengths of our member organizations, the APA is able to provide, at a very low cost, one large, amplified, law enforcement “voice” within our community. The main function of this “voice” is to effectively communicate with and lobby the state legislature, our federal representatives, and when needed, local city and town councils, board of supervisors and individual employers. This communication and lobbying is focused upon the issues affecting the working law enforcement officer, whether these issues concern retirement benefits, adequate pay, adequate equipment, due process rights, effective law enforcement legislation, or the ability of law enforcement officers to be treated fairly.
The National Troopers Coalition (NTC) is our voice across the nation and at the White House. NTC has been appointed to a committee to address gun violence. They are also active in discussing law enforcement fatalities our nation is faced with. AHPA will be attending their Spring Conference, which takes place in South Carolina, hosted by the South Carolina Troopers Association in March. The conference committee is hard at work preparing a great agenda with fantastic speakers and topics. These conferences provide a great opportunity for law enforcement association to learn and network. The conferences will continue with its great tradition of providing quality professional development.
Further, AHPA is helping to create the opportunities – through private investments – that are enabling many Arizonans to become proud, productive citizens of our great nation. Our goal is to help increase the career pathways for students. AHPA’s scholarships are awarded to children of our members that want to attend college. We raise money to help make education dreams a reality for our youth. AHPA Charities was set up to not only benefit thriving students, but other programs like Make-a-Wish, the 100 Club, Concerns of Police Survivors and other organizations that positively impact our profession.
AHPA is also one the proud sponsors of the “Operation 10-90” program that has assisted our DPS military personnel deployed both overseas and stateside. We stand by those military DPS employees, and want to provide them all the resources needed to assist their transition. These military members, like all members, have immediate access to financial, insurance and other benefits that can help make work and home life easier.
The Arizona Highway Patrol Association (AHPA) continues to grow and become the organization that we all dreamed of several years ago. As we all face the challenges that 2013 brings, I hope that AHPA can serve as a resource to meet those challenges and provide the assistance, networking and community to serve our members. I look forward to serving AHPA along with the executive board. Previous AHPA leadership has provided the leadership and direction that has made AHPA the great organization it is.
If you have not signed up to serve on AHPA committee, I encourage you to do so and actively participate by posting your questions, assistance, answers and comments. Membership feedback is a valuable resource in our everyday association decisions. AHPA has many committees such as communications, membership, sponsorships and others listed on this website. I encourage each of you to contact a board member or your district representative and volunteer to assist (in any way possible) the committee of your choosing.
Our monthly meetings take place every third Wednesday of the month at the Phoenix Mountain Preserve Reception Center. Please know members always have an open invitation to attend.
This is always a hopeful time, as we celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of another. And while 2009 to 2012 was difficult for many Americans, we must also look back on this year with the knowledge that brighter days are ahead of us – that although our challenges are great, each of us has the courage and determination to rise up and meet them.
It is that spirit that has kept the American Dream alive for generations, and it is that spirit that will keep it alive for generations to come.
Happy New Year, everyone.
Arizona Highway Patrol Association (AHPA)