Today’s signing of SB 1235 into law by Governor Jan Brewer signaled a new day for law enforcement officers throughout the State. A late amendment to this bill provides that a law enforcement officer from municipalities can be protected under the State’s whistleblower law from disciplinary action by their department or city personnel director should they disclose information related to a violation of law or a gross waste of money or an abuse of authority by their employer.
In the past, reporting such incidents could land the employee in serious hot water and could subject the employee to disciplinary action by the employer. With the signing of this bill, officers who make such a report and who are subsequently disciplined or reprised against by their employer make seek redress through their city or town personnel board.
This legislative session, PLEA’s legislative liaison Dr. Levi Bolton wrote a provision that would provide “whistleblower” protection to law enforcement personnel throughout the State. This amendment was sought by PLEA due to recent actions by City of Phoenix Police management personnel against members of the Association who were targeted by retaliation for disclosing bad business practices.
Arizona had a “whistleblower” provision based upon the federal government’s model but it did not extend to municipal police officers. State Senator Russell Pearce was very supportive of PLEA’s concern and attached Dr. Bolton’s “whistleblower” language as an amendment on the FOP’s SB1235.
PLEA was advised that the FOP and the Association of Chiefs of Police (ACOPs) were opposed to this amended language. On Tuesday, April 19, at approximately 7:30pm State Senator Linda Gray contacted PLEA and expressed her support for PLEA’s language as it appeared in the amendment. Early on Wednesday April 20 State Senate President Russell Pearce expressed to PLEA his continued support for “whistleblower” protection for police officers in Arizona. Today, Monday, April 25, 2011, Governor Brewer demonstrated her consistent support for Phoenix Police Officers and law enforcement statewide by signing into law SB1235 and the amended “whistleblower” protection language.
Everyone seems to “get it” except the chiefs, police management, and their FOP partners. Perhaps the passage of the bill into law will make it easier for City attorneys to do the right thing when it comes to protecting employees who stand up for what is right.
CLICK HERE to read the actual statute.