The climate is changing drastically for the law enforcement community. What the nation saw in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland has shaken our profession in recent months. All eyes are on law enforcement, including Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) employees, and how we are conducting ourselves.
In Baltimore, the union covering the six officers that were indicted in the Freddie Gray case solicited donations for $600,000 for legal expenses and financial relief to those involved. While it is important to allow the legal system to work, the call for legal assistance donations would never occur for our members. The Arizona Highway Patrol Association (AHPA) wants our membership to know that when it comes to your legal protection, you are well covered. The Legal Defense Fund (LDF) has approximately $13 million dollars in reserve if our members require criminal legal assistance. Most importantly, there is NO CAP to your legal defense. LDF has the funds to cover a multi-million dollar defense, and at times does so concurrently for other officers in different states and legal cases that pay into the fund. Additionally, using LDF does not require approval from the AHPA Board of Directors. It is YOUR BENEFIT! No approval process. No vetting. No voting. Simply call the hotline.
LDF is the largest, oldest and most respected legal plan for peace officers for a reason. It is run by cops for cops, with over 100,000 members. Your 24/7 emergency coverage does not just give you any attorney, but provides you with an experienced lawyer that successfully completed a rigorous process to become a LDF resource. If, for some reason, a member does not like their attorney, they can always pick another one. LDF also recognizes the importance of expert witness testimony in police misconduct cases. A large panel of expert witnesses from around the country in the fields of use of force, police practices, forensic video analysis, medical/psychological, and jury consultants, are regularly utilized in the defense of our members. As of March 31, 2014, LDF spent $344,135, for the use of expert witness testimony.
This fund is not only for officers, but civilians that handle sensitive information or have the potential to respond similarly as an officer. If you have the possibility to be criminally charged named in a lawsuit as a result of your duties, especially one of high-profile, the LDF is there to provide you with the same legal protection as an officer.
AHPA supports all our members, including those that require an aggressive legal defense. Across the state, the LDF has the means to support those that find themselves in an unfortunate situation. The LDF should help you and your loved ones feel comforted and assured that you are protected.
For more information on your legal protection, visit our website at: http://aztroopers.wpengine.com/benefits/legal-plan.