In 1975, under the guidelines set forth in the City of Phoenix’s Meet and Confer Ordinance, a core group of forward-thinking Phoenix police officers established the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association. After an election process, PLEA became the sole certified bargaining unit for Phoenix police officers and sergeants. On January 10, 1976, in a meeting held at the First Federal Savings and Loan, the following were elected to the Board of Directors: Gordy Lange, Pat Pezzelle, Frank Startzell, Robert Ketelaar, Steve Wieland, James McKay, Joe Petrosino, Ernie Bakin, Jerry Licata, Tony Macarle and Richard Kerger. The 11 original Board of Directors were elected to one-year terms, with the vice president presiding over the Board. One of the original purposes of the newly formed PLEA, as stated in the original incorporation documents, was “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, Mike Napier was appointed as PLEA’s lawful agent, and has continued as our legal counsel to this day. No organization I can think of can say they still have their original law firm representing them. That is a testament to the relationship and level of unwavering and professional representation PLEA has enjoyed throughout the years.
We are committed to working hard to represent you in all matters with the same level of pride, professionalism and drive you exhibit every day.
Gordy Lange served as PLEA’s first president. As PLEA evolved and became more prominent within the inner workings of the city, the mayor and council felt it was not in their best interest for the officers and sergeants to be represented by the same organization and amended the city charter, leaving the sergeants no choice but to leave and form a separate bargaining unit.
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. From our inception, PLEA has represented officers in tens of thousands of administrative investigations and has informally resolved a relatively equal number of cases.
Operating in a nonbinding arbitration environment, PLEA relies on relationships to garner benefits and mitigate discipline for the membership. From the very beginning, PLEA has been successful in creating an MOU that includes a multitude of enhancements for all Phoenix police officers. In the July/August 2021 issue of the Phoenix Law Enforcer, former Vice President Toby Sexton outlined from the very beginning the benefits that have been obtained by PLEA for the membership over the years. It is quite a fascinating and impressive read, if you are so inclined. You can find it archived on our website at azplea.com/article/what-plea-does-for-its-members.
In addition to pay, benefits, grievances and working conditions, PLEA also represents the membership on a wide variety of departmental committees along with the PSPRS Local Pension Board, Healthcare Task Force, Deferred Compensation and PEHP Board, Public Safety Advisory Committee and Block Watch Advisory Board.
The bottom line is this: The plethora of benefits that have been obtained over the years, to include this latest MOU, comes from having a Board of Trustees and representatives who understand the complexity, dedication and hard work put in each and every day by Phoenix police officers and detectives — men and women who are serving and have served right beside you. In recognition of this, we are committed to working just as hard to represent you in all matters with the same level of pride, professionalism and drive you exhibit every day. In addition, PLEA has been able to build such a positive and professional reputation that many throughout our community seek our endorsements. No other organization has been able to do for Phoenix police officers and detectives what PLEA has done in the last 48 years and will continue to do for years to come.