President’s Message – January 23, 2014
As we enter Arizona’s 2014 legislative session, I’d like to remind our members that AHPA has three major priorities this year. These main issues were set forth by the Board of Directors:
- DPS competitive pay & resources
- Arizona Blue Alert (H.B. 2323: http://www.azleg.gov/DocumentsForBill.asp?Bill_Number=2323&Session_Id=112&image.x=0&image.y=0)
- Clarifying language to the “Peace Officer’s Bill of Rights”
Before I begin going through our legislative plan, I wanted to share the obvious sentiment that has been discussed with me recently. In years past, Governor Brewer always expressed that public safety was her number one priority. However, if you watched or read her “Four Cornerstone of Reform” platform, recent “State of the State” address or reviewed her budget proposal from last Friday (all accessible from her website at http://www.azgovernor.gov), I think we all feel like the Department of Public Safety (DPS) has lost its significance.
In general, Governor Brewer’s budget proposal is very conservative. Brewer’s proposal for DPS (our budget starts at page 323 and is accessible by going to: http://www.ospb.state.az.us/documents/2014/FY15-State%20Agency%20Budget%20-%20online%20edition.pdf) included no competitive pay package.
Though this is disappointing news to our agency and members, I remain positive that DPS employees might make some headway with members of our legislature.
The AHPA lobbyist, Kelsey Lundy, and me have been meeting with legislators since last year, expressing our legislative needs. Many of our elected officials have reminded us that they understand public safety is a core government responsibility, and support DPS. However, they need to hear from you. That is why AHPA is reactivating our “We are DPS” campaign, where it is our members, family and friends that will make an important impact on beneficial results to our agency. If you remember, these call-to-actions to contact your elected officials were successful in providing necessary personnel coverage to ALL DPS employees. AHPA will give you all the tools to help us make an impact on our member’s legislative priorities. That is why we need you to be active in helping secure rights and awareness for ALL DPS employees.
1. DPS competitive pay & resources:
Members have received communication from the association that competitive pay for ALL DPS employees is our first and primary goal. It is no secret our employees are the best at what they do, yet underpaid compared to other agencies. Additionally, we have been passed over yearly and asked to do more with less due to budget constraints. According to the DPS 2013 Pay Study, sworn employees lag behind the market by 23.3% on average and civilian employees are behind an average of 22.6%. AHPA’s independent study echoes DPS’ findings. (See the last study at http://aztroopers.wpengine.com/about/strategic-plan.)
This year, the Department submitted a budget request that included an across-the-board four percent (4%) raise for everyone. AHPA submitted a pay proposal that addresses the competitiveness of the agency for the future by addressing the salary gap in a thoughtful, comprehensive manner. Our plan is outlined below and would be a total cost of $38.1 million over a three (3) year period. As a result the application of the lump sums over three (3) years will not bring DPS employees to the top of market, but somewhere near ten percent (10%) of market.
AHPA’s DPS Competitiveness Pay Package
Total Cost over 3 Years:
Sworn Officer Pay Adjustment $27.3M
Civilian Employee Pay Adjustment 10.8M
Total Cost of Adjustment in Pay $38.1M
It is AHPA’s position that by not addressing a competitive pay package for DPS employees NOW will impact the department’s future ability to recruit and retain the most highly qualified employees who are entrusted to protect and serve the citizens of Arizona. By implementing the AHPA proposal, DPS would be closer in market salaries to other law enforcement agencies within the state. To be one of the more sought after, premier law enforcement agencies in Arizona, it will be essential to make DPS competitive once again.
As mentioned previously, Governor Brewer included no pay plan for DPS in her budget. Now it is up to our House of Representatives and State Senate to approve a pay package for our agency. A press release (link to document here) was sent out to notify the public on the AHPA’s position. DPS employees, family and friends are the only ones who can now advocate making our department competitive again, and we need your help. We encourage you, on your own time, to alert others and write to your elected officials and the Governor’s office. Look for the “We are DPS” web-postings (www.AHPA.com), social media posts, emails, and other communications on how you can help.
READ AHPA’S PRESS RELEASE HERE:
AHPA’S PRESS RELEASE – Press Release – AHPA Encouraging Legislature to Address DPS Competitiveness 1.20.14 (PDF)
2. Arizona Blue Alert
The AHPA and Concerns of Police Officers (C.O.P.S.) Arizona (www.copsarizona.org) worked together in securing a sponsor for an Arizona Blue Alert. With the help of Representative Justin Pierce and his co-sponsors, the Arizona Blue Alert is now officially H.B. 2323! (Track its progress and read the bill’s language here: http://www.azleg.gov/DocumentsForBill.asp?Bill_Number=2323&Session_Id=112&image.x=0&image.y=0)
The Blue Alert Foundation, Inc. developed the Blue Alert system to help law enforcement the means to speed the apprehension of violent criminals who kill or seriously injure local, state, or federal law enforcement officers. We are working with different organizations to get the word out nation and state-wide.
Based upon the success of the Amber and Silver Alerts and using a similar notification system, AHPA and C.O.P.S. Arizona are asking state legislators to allow law enforcement officers, agencies, and survivors to help put the “Blue Alert” into effect nationwide and in Arizona.
The Arizona Blue Alert is one way we can show support for the brave men and women who protect our great nation and ensure that those who do harm to our protectors are quickly captured, fully prosecuted, and appropriately punished.
3. Clarifying language to the “Peace Officer’s Bill of Rights” (A.R.S. Title 38, Chapter 8, Article 1)
Though nothing official has taken place at the legislature, law enforcement agencies and associations are aware that Chapter 8 of A.R.S. Title 38, commonly knows as the “Peace Officer’s Bill of Rights,” will be essentially edited. What does that mean? Organizations, like AHPA and your state membership to the Arizona Police Association (APA – www.AZPOLICE.org), and other stakeholders have pieced together laws over the years to provide officers rights.
Representative Justin Pierce is the sponsor of the bill and has assured all parties will be involved with cleaning up its language. AHPA will be involved to ensure no changes that negatively impact officers occur. The most important piece for us is fixing a conflict in statute, created by personnel reform, that we believe unintentionally lowered protections for DPS sworn officers as compared to all other law enforcement officers in Arizona.
AHPA’s executive board, lobbyist, and attorney, Dale Norris, are watching this closely will be making recommendations to its language that is in your best interest. Dale has already been to the legislature to receive feedback as to what edits are of interest. Additionally, Dr. Levi Bolton, Executive Director of the APA, has been involved in the process. APA represents 10,000 federal, state and local law enforcement officers in the state of Arizona, including the Arizona Corrections Association, Arizona Federal Police Officers Association, Arizona Police Officers Association, Avondale Police Association, Buckeye Police Association Chandler Police Association, Combined Law Enforcement Association, City of Maricopa Police Association, Arizona Probation Officers Association, Pima County Probation Officers Association, Sierra Vista Police Officers Association, Tucson Police Officer Association, Salt River Law Enforcement Association, Pima County Deputy Sheriff Association, Pima County Sheriffs Commanders Association, Eloy Police Officers Association, Marana Police Association, Copper Corridor Police Association, Gila County Sheriff’s Officers. Miami Police Officers, Globe Police Officers, Payson Police Officers, Hayden Police Officers, Deputies Law Enforcement Association, Law Enforcement Association of Pinal County, Law Enforcement Association of Florence, Gilbert Police Leadership Association, Glendale Police Officers Association, Goodyear Police Officers Association, Maricopa County Association of Detention Officers, Mesa Police Association, Nation Border Patrol – #2544, Peoria Police Officers Association, Coalition of Peoria Police Supervisors, Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, Surprise Police Employees Association, Tempe Police Association and the University and College Law Enforcement Association. We all have a vested interest in this verbiage.
As information presents itself, we will keep you updated. However, know that AHPA and APA have your best interests in mind when it comes to securing peace officer rights.
There is no doubt AHPA and Arizona law enforcement have another year of lawmaking that will affect the way we work in this noble profession. AHPA members have voted on making DPS competitive pay its number one priority, and it will remain our first and foremost responsibility. I am personally committed to helping improve you and your family’s livelihoods. With your help, I believe that AHPA members can make a significant difference on these three main legislative items and achieve our goals. It is essential you stay informed and active in the ways you can help.