In 1975, under the guidelines set forth in the City of Phoenix’s Meet and Confer Ordinance, a core group of Phoenix police officers established the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, PLEA. After an election process, PLEA became the certified bargaining unit for Phoenix police officers and sergeants.
The original Board of Directors consisted of 11 members, who were elected to one-year terms, with the vice president presiding over the Board. On Jan. 10, 1976, at 9:00 a.m., in a meeting held at First Federal Savings and Loan, located at 2002 E. Camelback Road, the following persons were elected to the Board of Directors:
• Gordon “Gordy” Lange
• Pat Pezzelle
• Frank Startzell
• Roger Ketelaar
• Steve Weiland
• James McKay
• Joe Petrosino
• Irwin “Ernie” Bakin
• Jerry Licata
• Tony Macarle
• Richard Kerger
In Article III of the original incorporation documents, the general nature of the business to be transacted and the object and purposes for which the newly formed corporation was responsible included:
“To promote better relations, working conditions, benefits and wages of Patrolmen and Sergeants working for the City of Phoenix Police Department.”
In the same articles of incorporation, Michael Napier was appointed as PLEA’s lawful agent and has stood with us as our chief legal counsel.
Gordy Lange served as PLEA’s first president. As PLEA evolved, sergeants eventually left and formed a separate bargaining unit, Management and Police Employees (MAPE), which evolved into what is currently the Phoenix Police Sergeants and Lieutenants Association (PPSLA). While PPSLA negotiates their wages and benefits and covers their legal defense, there are a number of sergeants who have opted to remain associate members of PLEA for other benefits.
Mike Petchel served as PLEA’s president from 1985 until 1997, when Terry Sills was elected president. Terry Sills went on to serve as president from 1997 through 1999, until Ron Snodgrass, a longtime PLEA trustee, was elected. Ron held the position for almost a year and was briefly succeeded by Levi Bolton, who was vice president at the time. Levi declared the position vacant and Roy C. “Jake” Jacobsen, another PLEA trustee, was appointed to the position of president by the Board of Trustees and served out the remainder of the term. In 2001, Jake was subsequently elected president and went on to serve until 2007. During this time period, PLEA moved out of a leased office located at 5033 N. 19th Ave. into our current location at 1102 W. Adams St. Unlike the previous office, this building and surrounding property are owned by PLEA, showing a long-term commitment to the membership. As part of this transition, PLEA adopted a new logo, which represents a reflection of the past and the promise of a progressive future. Mark Spencer was elected president in 2007 and served until 2011, when he was succeeded by, Joe Clure. Joe became a PLEA member when he graduated from the Phoenix Regional Police Academy in 1982. He came on board as a representative in 1985 and was eventually elected to a trustee position, serving as secretary, treasurer and chief negotiator. Ken Crane started his career as a Phoenix Police Officer and became a PLEA Member in 1989. He began his PLEA career as a Shift Rep in the mid-1990’s and eventually served as a trustee, including Secretary and Vice President. Ken was elected as PLEA’s next president in 2015 and carried on the long held desire of working in conjunction with Department leadership, community members and groups, and most importantly, to represent the membership of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association. Ken retired in December 2018 and PLEA Vice President Michael “Britt” London became president. Britt has been a Phoenix Police Officer and PLEA Member since 1995, became a Shift Rep in 2008, and was elected to a trustee position in 2011 before becoming Vice President in 2017. His plans moving forward include increased communication and interaction with the membership and community interaction and outreach.
Throughout the years, PLEA’s primary mission has been to promote the positive role of the police profession and to protect and secure members’ rights and benefits through effective representation and professional relationships with the community and local, state and national governments. We have represented police officers in over 10,000 individual administrative investigations and have informally resolved a relatively equal number of cases.
In addition to belonging to the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) and the Arizona Police Association (APA), over the years, PLEA has assisted in the formation of many of the Phoenix metropolitan area’s police associations, as well as the Tucson Police Officers’ Association.
Since PLEA’s beginnings, representatives and Board members have been asked and/or selected to participate in a variety of community and departmental committees, including:
Tuition Assistance for Police
Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS)
100 Club of Arizona
Police Museum Board
City of Phoenix
Healthcare Task Force
Deferred Compensation Board
Public Safety Advisory Committee
Block Watch Advisory Board
State of Arizona
PLEA maintains its own 501(c)(3) arm, PLEA Charities, which provides charitable, financial, and educational assistance to law enforcement officers and their families. PLEA Charities also provides contributions to community groups and organizations supportive of public safety. In addition, PLEA Charities promotes the positive image of law enforcement officers and seeks to enhance the quality of life in our communities. PLEA Charities participates in the annual “Shop With a Cop” program, run in conjunction with the Phoenix Police Department, as well as other community events.
While the names and faces have changed over the past 40 years, the common philosophy that all of PLEA’s representatives and trustees have subscribed to has been that it is about taking care of the members. We will continue to provide our members with the best representation possible by staying on the cutting edge of current trends.