By Will Buividas, PLEA Treasurer
After viewing the most recent video message from Chief Danny Garcia on the PD website, it’s good to know that, once again, we have PRIDE as Phoenix Police Officers. Apparently for the last 15 years our pride as officers or at least those of us who have chosen to wear the class D patrol uniform has been non-existent. What does this say to our surrounding sister agencies that regularly wear class D type patrol uniforms? Does this mean they don’t have pride? More importantly, I guess the rest of the upper management of the Phoenix PD has been missing the boat for the past 15 years. Listening to the Chief’s message, it would seem the only thing that makes us proud is the uniform we wear. With every day that passes the messages and signals coming out of the Chief’s office seem to do nothing but generate more confusion.
Not being in patrol since 1981 has put him out of touch with the reality faced by our men and women on a day to day basis. The last time I checked, it’s not the uniform that makes the person. I just recently flew back from visiting family in Dallas and could not believe what I saw. Dallas Police Officers were wearing cargo pants with outer cargo pockets. I don’t know if they were allowed to have cargo pockets when Chief Garcia was there, but clearly they are going down a slippery slope with their uniforms. Before long they might be confused with home invaders not to mention the obvious fact there is no way they can have pride in their appearance wearing uniforms like that.
It would be nice if the Chief didn’t surround himself with yes men/women and took the time to get out of the bubble he is in. He made the comment the other day that many in the Department support him because of the numerous officers lined up with their families to get a picture with him at the awards ceremony. Apparently, in his mind, this equates to being liked by most everyone. Of course officers are going to get their picture taken with the Chief at an awards ceremony. This doesn’t mean they necessarily like or respect him or think he is leading the Phoenix Police Department in the right direction. When he speaks, it seems it is all about him and not about the community, or the men and women on the streets. Maybe the fact that he applied twice for the Chief’s job in Dallas and didn’t make the cut should tell us something. Maybe they know something we don’t. For some, the positions of Police Chief and King are easily confused. The job should be about taking care of the citizens and giving the guys on the streets the tools and support they need to do the job, not threatening to have PSB at the precincts in case someone shows up in a class D uniform. The mere fact that the Chief was planning on doing this speaks volumes. It shows a lack of confidence in the ability of his supervisors within the precincts to ensure officers are in compliance with uniform standards.
Chief Garcia told PLEA that uniforms were very low on his list of priorities only a couple of weeks before the ENS announcing the change went out. I’m not the only one wondering why the Department is already agreeing to reimburse any officer who bought a class D uniform since January 1st. Who came up with the arbitrary date of January 1st, anyway? Actions like this are characteristic of trying to shore up a bad position. Now in a time of budget crisis, the City is going to cut checks to those who bought class D uniforms. Also, the Department is going to reimburse every officer with a medical note that now has to go out and buy new equipment because it has changed its view on ADA “reasonable accommodations.” The citizens/taxpayers have every reason to be upset with knee jerk decisions of this type that are now costing them money. The City doesn’t have money to hire new officers, but can now apparently shell out thousands of dollars to pay for an ill-conceived decision because the Chief’s ego is too big to allow him to reconsider his initial position on the issue. Seems like a wise decision to me. I guess the Phoenix Police Department doesn’t agree with the philosophy that “there is great wisdom in the counsel of many.” The new philosophy now seems to be “it’s my way or the highway.”