Our department has been faced with tragedy and numerous close calls this year. Just recently, an AHPA member in Payson was shot at three times by a criminal. We are all thankful that he was wearing his vest and lived through a situation no officer wants to be faced with. He is a true warrior that never gave up. Additionally, we are all gratified to hear the suspect was able to be located shortly after fleeing from the shooting. Communication and corporation from multiple law enforcement agencies was instrumental in finding the assailant. With horrific events, like the one in Payson, the Arizona Highway Patrol Association (AHPA) is looking to push forward a bill called the Blue Alert. Many states have passed into law the distribution of information related to a criminal who attempts or succeeds in killing a police officer. The officer down notifications are similar to how the Amber Alert operates – where the public and law enforcement receive details about the suspect. It is AHPA’s hope, through the Blue Alert, to prevent cop killers from walking away after their crimes. AHPA has been speaking with legislative members and other police related organizations about the Blue Alert, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. As the legislative session nears, we hope that you and your family will support our efforts into passing this important law enforcement tool.
The AHPA board is also speaking to our Arizona legislators about salary increases for all DPS employees. You might recall the pay study the association conducted last several years ago. The agency conducts a salary comparison every year prior to submitting their budget proposal to the Governor. Conservatively, DPS is 23% below the average law enforcement salary. AHPA feels neglecting DPS employees’ salaries can contribute to low morale and high turn-over rates. There are countless examples where a DPS employee leaves for another police agency for higher wages. As our department has diminished in the number of employees over the last several years, current and future employees are vital to the agency’s duties and ensuring public and officer safety. Our legislative members have been receptive to the discussion. However, there is no doubt it will take help from all our members to be successful. I urge members to visit our website (www.AHPA.com) regularly for updates on this critical issue, and contact your local representative and stay updated as to how you can help us in these efforts of obtaining adequate funding for competitive compensation.
AHPA is pleased to welcome many new members and seeing them take advantage of our benefits. The association really does have incomparable assistance for you and your family. I spoke with a member recently that said her AHPA membership is paid for by the significant discount she receives from the Verizon Wireless plan. A board member reported during a meeting that an AHPA member could not get life insurance for her and her family, like what the AHPA provides for free, without spending a fortune. An AHPA representative recently called the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) and spoke with an AHPA attorney immediately to get assistance. If you have not taken advantage or just need to be refreshed on all that your AHPA membership provides you, I encourage you to go to our website (www.AHPA.com), contact your district representative or contact our executive secretary, Colleen Girard, at 480-899-4675 or AHPA@AHPA.com.
As you can see, your AHPA board continuously works to improve the wellbeing for you and your family. AHPA is as strong as our membership, and it takes everyone’s efforts to accomplish greatness. Thank you for your continued support of this association and your help with this year’s legislative endeavors. And remember, be safe!