Law enforcement civilians want same standards as sworn officers
Arizona – Per Governor Brewer, the legislature will be hearing a striker amendment to House Bill 2571 on Thursday in efforts to reform due process for state employees. The members of the Arizona Highway Patrol Association (AHPA) oppose the language in the bill that removes civilian Department of Public Safety (DPS) from their current Law Enforcement Merit System Council.
“We have some of the best civilian police employees,” states Jimmy Chavez, President of the AHPA. “They want to be held to the same standards as a sworn officer. I believe that is a testament to the integrity and dedication of these public servants.”
Over the years, increased law enforcement related duties have been mandated to DPS and some of those responsibilities have been passed on to DPS’ exemplary, cost-effective support staff. About half of the agency is comprised of civilian employees, who passed the same rigorous background checks and standards as sworn officers. Each specialized employee contributes a significant job to a unit within DPS’ multi-faceted department. “From the DNA analyst that provides crucial evidence about a missing child to the investigator that tracks a sex offender, civilians are vital roles in DPS’ elite police network,” says Chavez. “They pass rigorous background checks, are entrusted with sensitive information and help protect the public. Sworn officers and civilians, together, provide citizens essential law enforcement services.”
It is AHPA’s position that the current law enforcement merit system council for DPS employees provides one standard of service within a specialized industry. “Honor is measurable in law enforcement and it is demanded by everyone in the justice system and our industry,” adds Chavez. “DPS employees (sworn and civilian) present the same liabilities and should be accountable equally. Our state must protect the integrity of police work. We want the public to always trust in our services.”
AHPA is asking the Governor and legislature to not generalize the law enforcement profession with other state agencies. The association is attempting to educate delegates about some of the services DPS provides through committee hearings, emails and videos. AHPA members hope their campaign profiles some of the civilian police services the public does not see.