The 2011 legislative session saw several bills passed in the area of police officer rights. SB 2613 AZ POST Reporting will allow police labor organizations to bring complaints regarding police managerial misconduct to AZ POST for investigation if it can be shown that the complaint was made internally and no action was taken. HB 2444 Law Enforcement discipline along with HB 2477 Witness Officer – Right to Representationboth deal with allowing witness officers the right to representation when interviewed if the results of their interview could result in another officer being demoted, suspended or terminated from employment. SB 1057 – Just Cause will allow an officer to bring legal action against their employer in superior court if the officer was penalized without “Just Cause.” SB 1235 Whistleblower Protection applies existing whilstelblower protection statutes to municipal law enforcement officers who disclose information that they believe evidences a violation of law, mismanagement, a gross waste of monies or an abuse of authority.
Mike Frazier, who is currently the police chief of Surprise and a former PPD asst. chief, is also a representative for the Arizona Chiefs of Police and Sheriffs (ACOPS). With regard to the above legislation, Chief Frazier was recently quoted as saying “Most police officers are good employees but some are not”, adding “so many rules sometimes makes it diffficult to do the right thing and you have to ask yourself: ‘Is the eventual loser the community?'”
From a police labor perspective one could just as easily state: “Most police managers are good employees but some are not…” When he says, “…so many rules…” does he mean the myriads of department policies police officers have to comply with or the 6 new State laws that hold police managers accountable? PLEA believes that the above legislation brings a more balanced perspective which will require police managers to operate with increased levels of accountability. Portions of this legislation will protect those officers who dare to report managerial misconduct from reprisals of overzealous police managers.
Statements expressed by Frazier are the reason why it is important NOT to have managers in the mix of a labor group charged with protecting the interests of the rank and file police officers.
CLICK HERE to read the related AZ Republic article.