As a police association, we are charged with representing our membership. Everyone knows that we will accompany you to PSB for a misconduct investigation, show up at critical incidents to assist the officers, and negotiate with the City regarding pay and benefits. What a lot of members don’t realize is that representation extends into the political arena.
To represent our membership politically, we must have a fund set aside — called a Political Action Committee (PAC) fund. The money that a member pays in monthly dues cannot be used for the PAC fund. Conversely, monies designated for PAC cannot be used for any other purpose. The money in the PAC fund comes from individual officers having additional dollars deducted from their paychecks, knowing full well where it is going to be spent.
Public safety should be a top priority for our legislators. We need to find like-minded individuals and help them to be successful.
Now, some people believe police associations have no business in the political arena. I respectfully disagree. Police associations, ours included, need to align with candidates who are friendly to law enforcement at the federal, state and local levels. Doing so increases our chances of getting legislation passed that benefits the entire law enforcement community. For example, at the state level, it took a lot of “politicking” to get the peace officers bill of rights enacted. If you have never reviewed your rights prescribed by state law, peruse A.R.S. § 38-1101 through 38-1115. This was not achieved because people wanted you to have more rights. It was a challenge on many levels, and ultimately, law-enforcement-friendly politicians saw the benefits for us and we were able to succeed in passing this important legislation.
Being politically active at the local level is, perhaps, even more important for our association. Look at the current City Council makeup. Some City Council members love the police, so long as it comes at half the pay rate and little to no pension. If that were the case, can you imagine the quality of police officers we would have? Additionally, some City Council members would rather defund the police department in a way that would prevent hiring enough officers to ensure #9931 public safety and trust within the community and provide a level of service to our citizens that is second to none. Currently, the majority of the council does not support you as a police officer or recognize the good work you all do on a daily basis. They paint us all with the same broad brush that they demand us not to use when interacting with the community. It is a sad time we find ourselves in. Politicians with that mindset are better suited for something other than public service and, as an association, we make a point not to support those candidates.
I am not proclaiming that the association should be running the City Council or State Legislature, or that only candidates who offer us unwavering support should be elected. What I am saying is that public safety should be a top priority for our legislators and city government. We, as an association, need to find those like-minded individuals, assist them in their political endeavors and help them to be successful. Ultimately, this will be beneficial to us. Through the Arizona Police Association, we work with a lobbyist group that is helping us advance pro-police bills at the state level. In addition, we often heed their advice on candidates they have identified (state and local) who are pro-law-enforcement and help support their campaigns. With additional resources, we can be more of a partner to these individuals.
Being politically involved is more important than ever considering the climate surrounding law enforcement. I encourage all members to earmark at least $10 per month toward PAC. On a side note, retirees can also contribute to PAC if they so desire. This will assist the effort to get the right people in the right seats to help the law enforcement cause. Contact the PLEA office at (602) 246-7869 to find out how to start your PAC contribution.
As always, if you have any questions, call me here at the PLEA office or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.