The men and women of the Phoenix Police Department leave their homes and families each day to serve our community. For us, this job is not about recognition but protecting the community we call home. The past few weeks have been challenging for our community as we grapple with social injustice and racial prejudice. PLEA strongly opposes discrimination of any kind. Our officers uphold and enforce the law regardless of gender, race, socioeconomic status or sexual orientation.
Time and time again, we have seen the men and women of the Phoenix Police Department manage and respond to a public crisis with grace and professionalism. This current challenge is no different, as they continue to provide safety and security for our entire community, including those who are seeking to disparage and eliminate police departments.
While some are calling to ‘defund police,’ the reality is that the Department is woefully underfunded and officers are underpaid.
Unfortunately, there has been a lot of misinformation spread about our police officers in recent weeks that needs to be corrected and addressed. First and foremost, our police officers are incredibly hardworking people who put their lives on the line each day for people they do not know. It takes a special type of person to be able to put service before self.
We believe in transparency and accountability. No one is above the law, period. If anyone, whether they are wearing the uniform or not, breaks the law, they should be held accountable. There are currently rigorous standards and procedures in place for officer misconduct. Our work is consistently and constantly scrutinized, and we believe this is important in order to increase the professional quality of our police force.
While some are calling to “defund police,” the reality is that the Phoenix Police Department is woefully underfunded and officers are underpaid. There were no wage increases from 2012 to 2019 as a result of the Great Recession, and we are still 450 officers short of our maximum staffing level in 2008, which was 3,385 officers. Bottom line: Our Phoenix police officers having been doing more with less as the population of the Phoenix metro area continues to skyrocket. Transparency and accountability require funding, body cameras require funding, crisis response teams require funding and ensuring rapid response times to emergency calls requires funding.
We are also on the brink of another crisis — officer retirement. Over 800 officers can retire immediately and another 465 can retire by 2024. That is more than 1,200 officers who are eligible to retire within the next four years. We need the resources to recruit, train and retain quality officers to keep every corner of the city of Phoenix safe.
One point that has been lost in the divisive rhetoric against police officers is how involved we are with our local community. Through PLEA Charities, we are focused on enhancing the quality of life in our communities by helping police officers in need, as well as assisting organizations and individuals within our communities. Since its inception, PLEA Charities has disbursed approximately $2.5 million to various causes such as fallen officer family support, at-risk youth programs, back-to-school drives, scholarships and Silent Witness rewards. PLEA Charities provides individuals and organizations with a charitable venue to meet the needs of rank-and-file police officers and their families. We allow for compassionate contributions to be invested back into communities, organizations, families and individuals that law enforcement protects and serves.
Our mission as an organization is to promote the positive role of the police profession, which we do each day by protecting the rights of law enforcement while also focusing on transparency, accountability and community engagement. We believe with more officers, resources and support, we can modernize the police force and expand our community outreach initiatives to meet the diverse needs of our community.