By Darrell Kriplean, PLEA President
It used to be that when critical incidents occurred, the practice of the Department was to roll two MAC vans to the scene. One was for the investigators, who would invariably be on scene for 10 or more hours conducting a thorough investigation. The other was used by the involved officers to meet with their attorney, union representative and EAU, make necessary calls to loved ones and generally try to decompress from the adrenaline and stress of the incident that had just occurred.
It usually takes several hours for the involved officer(s) to be interviewed by the criminal detectives and all the processes that go with that investigation, only to be followed up by the administrative investigations. That, too, can take several hours.
Several years ago, the Department made the decision to utilize the second MAC van for the Professional Standards Bureau investigators. This meant that the officers involved were relegated to a marked police car with a sergeant somewhere within the scene. This environment does not help the officer(s) with their heightened stress and emotions. Usually, the police radio is still on and broadcasting information regarding the incident. In addition, the media can generally tell where the involved officers are and, in some instances, have been able to get video of them as they process what happened. Anyone who has done the job knows that gallows humor sometimes occurs, and that can be misconstrued by an enterprising reporter looking for a juicy tale to tell. For years, the Department told us they were trying to get an alternative vehicle out to these scenes.
In 2020–21, a company provided the Department, without cost, the use of a Class A RV for the officers to wait in. After a year, the Department was asked to pay for the utilization of the RV, to which they declined. It was back to police cars for the officers.
Late last year, PLEA Secretary John Maxwell and I decided we were done waiting for the Department to solve this issue and created a sponsorship booklet for PLEA Charities. The premise was to raise money for the purchase of our own response van, which would allow the officers to get out of the police cars while they waited for hours. We felt it was a better option for their mental well-being.
We made calls to very specific organizations that we felt would be interested in helping our members. Our first pitch was to Haley Shuster from Blue Line AZ Homes and Amber Ruiz from The Ruiz Team (Prime Lending). They both supported our vision, and they immediately committed resources to help us. Several weeks later, after leaving my contact information with someone at the Tempe offices of QuikTrip, I received an email from one of their executives from the Tulsa headquarters, who wanted to sit down with us regarding our mission. We pitched our idea to them, and they seemed very interested. We parted ways, and the wait began.
A month or so later, John and I received an email from QuikTrip, advising us that they were on board, too, and wanted to donate at the top sponsorship level and then some. We were completely flabbergasted! With QuikTrip, Blue Line AZ Homes and The Ruiz Team (Prime Lending), we had reached the point where we could make a purchase.
We were able to take delivery of our new PLEA Charities response van a few months ago and have it wrapped. This was all done with donated funds from our partners. The next phase to outfitting this van is to have the interior modified with more comfortable seating, along with an auxiliary A/C and heat, so we don’t have to idle the van for eight to 10 hours, depending on the scene. This will create an environment conducive to decompression, overall mental well-being and privacy. You will also see the van at every PLEA Charities event, promoting our mission to promote the positive image of law enforcement and to support all of you when you need it most.
If you would like to assist us with that or know someone who might be interested in sponsoring the van outfitting with a tax-deductible contribution, please call us here at the PLEA office at (602) 246-7869 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.