The politics that control our profession should be a topic on everyone’s mind by now. In the past, it seemed that police officers, in general, wanted nothing to do with politics, and our members even wanted PLEA to stay out of the arena. Now, I think that our membership has proof all around them of how important political involvement is. Politics touch everything from our equipment to discipline and believe me, politicians are not going to increase pay or benefits out of the goodness of their hearts; that will always be through hard-fought negotiations.
The political strategy employed by most police labor associations involves long-standing relationships with politicians who align with the needs of those associations. Those relationships are supposed to get “yes” votes, and everyone is happy. It’s easy enough to understand in the simplest form of the explanation, but nothing has been simple for the members of PLEA over the last two years.
I truly believe that our supporters are great in number, and once organized, will bring politicians back to reality.
PLEA has seen local politicians “flip” their vote at the last minute and cower to crowds of loud voices. Our mayor, along with three council members, have yet to answer the two letters I’ve sent requesting they denounce the “defund the police” movement. A Maricopa County attorney candidate wants to reopen old officer-involved shooting investigations to re-investigate them! The Arizona State Capitol contains lawmakers who have and will continue to present legislation that restricts police action and attacks the profession, such as a bill to strike qualified immunity for law enforcement officers and other laws to destroy police associations so that law enforcement professionals have no political voice.
I know … lots of negativity, but I mention these things because there is a political wave that is threatening not only our profession but the society that we are sworn to protect. Politicians are using lies and emotion in an attempt to turn the nation against its protectors, hoping that more and more of the people who don’t think for themselves will believe anything they see, hear or read. These blind followers are being used, and they don’t even realize they too will suffer. The goal is to divide the American people, and they are using race to do it.
What can be done, and how soon can we do it? There is no quick fix to this problem. We must be as tenacious as our opponents, and we all need to get involved right now. Keep in mind, the restrictions we face with most seated politicians involve their election cycles and terms, but this also provides an opportunity to gather information from the community and to study voting records.
Our most important and basic need is a healthy Political Action Committee (PAC). Funding from PAC will help to ensure we have politicians who understand our profession and are not afraid to stand up for us. Money is extremely important in an election, and PAC funds get things done. I would ask that every PLEA member donates money to PAC. PLEA cannot use dues money for PAC, so your donation must be separate. You can call the PLEA Office for more info. A small #10170 monthly donation of $10 or more would greatly assist in the political fight for your profession and your family.
If you aren’t already talking about the untruths that social, electronic and print media report about cops, start doing so. Talk with your friends and family and get them involved. It doesn’t matter where they live. They can help by writing letters, emails or calling into City Council meetings to support us. I truly believe that our supporters are great in number, and once organized, will bring politicians back to reality.
With a membership base as large and diversified as ours, we have many opinions and political views. Let’s not let this become a barrier between us. We should be supporting one another every day. Many of our members have been subjected to duty-related missions that others have not, and it is a source of frustration. If we can take a moment to understand what we, as a whole, are dealing with, we will be stronger for it.
In the coming weeks, PLEA will be sending out a series of email messages to the membership, which will provide more detail about our progress and information on how to support our blue family to make the necessary changes within the political bodies that govern us.
We won’t quit, and if anything, we will improve. Your PLEA Board is proud to represent you, and we thank you for your dedication to the citizens of Phoenix.