The Benefits of Membership
by Franklin R. Marino
Representation of our members is the cornerstone of what PLEA does, whether it means having an experienced PLEA Rep to assist with a variety of problems such as labor relations, transfers, supervisor complaints, working conditions, grievances, allegations of misconduct, or assistance after being involved in a critical incident. We have approximately 2,200 dues-paying members and many Unit 4 members who, for various reasons, do not belong to PLEA. PLEA is obligated to provide representation to all Unit 4 employees when it comes to MOU issues; however, there are some distinct benefits of being a dues-paying member. Many members and their spouses/significant others or family members may not be aware of, or have long forgotten the ever-evolving list of benefits received when you join PLEA.
When you mention “benefits of membership” to most PLEA members, here are some that immediately come to mind:
- Vacation Discounts to Disneyland/California Adventure, Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Studios Hollywood, Magic Mountain/Hurricane Harbor, LEGOLAND California, Sea-Life Aquarium at LEGOLAND, SeaWorld San Diego, San Diego Zoo & Wild Animal Park. (In 2011, PLEA members saved over $50,000 by purchasing tickets to these venues at the PLEA office.)
- Local discounts to Castles ‘n Coasters, Sea Life Aquarium at Arizona Mills, Amazing Jakes in Mesa, and Wet ‘n’ Wild Phoenix.
- Movie tickets to AMC and Harkins Theaters at discount prices.
- Appreciation Events with 70%-90% discounts on various sporting events, spas & salons, family fun, golf, fitness, and discounts on books — biannual availability.
- Car rental discounts through Avis, Alamo, Hertz, Enterprise and Thrifty.
- Discounted tickets on the Verde Canyon Railroad and the Grand Canyon Railway.
- Discount cards for Danny’s Family Car Wash.
- Discounted tickets to events held at the U.S. Airways Center and Chase Field.
- Discounted tickets to events held at the Celebrity Theatre, Mesa Arts Center, and certain Phoenix venues.
- Discounts from a variety of PLEA Partners including law enforcement training, automotive services, home services, and financial services.
- Discounted service on pagers (yes, some people still use them) and cell phones.
CLICK HERE to see the current discounts available to PLEA Members.
Granted, you can find similar benefits for employees of other public-sector employee associations/unions, traditional labor unions like the IBEW, UAW, Teamsters, Operating Engineers, etc. and employees of private-sector corporations, like Honeywell. However, there are other benefits available only to dues-paying PLEA members, which may be worth their weight in gold. The downside is they pertain to topics we generally shy away from discussing, such as civil liability, criminal defense, injury, dismemberment, and death.
Many of us work off-duty jobs for a variety of reasons and as police officers we all should have a concept of what constitutes probable cause. In the event you end up being questioned about your abilities to articulate probable cause while making an arrest during the course of your offduty job, we have access to a group false arrest insurance policy.
In the event you are involved in a use of force incident, or a critical incident like an officer-involved shooting, you have access to a criminal defense attorney to consult with and guide you through the criminal portion of the investigation. These attorneys are provided free of charge through our Legal Defense Fund. While most police shootings are usually cut and dry, it never hurts to err on the side of caution and consult with an attorney before doing a walk-through of the scene and an interview with homicide investigators. After all, you are still a United States citizen with constitutional rights. Over the years, however, it’s unfortunate that we’ve had officers who have been arrested or charged with alleged criminal acts committed while they were off duty. In these cases, while they were not eligible for free representation, they did get a free initial consultation and a discount on any fees afterwards. We have also had situations where officers were acting under the color of their authority and the Legal Defense Fund picked up their defense costs.
Officers, as well as civilians, have found themselves being served with an order of protection. We routinely serve these orders during the course of our duties, and have all been through the drill after a domestic violence call, even one where there has been no crime, such as an argument. We also know that because of the increased emphasis placed on domestic violence in the last 20 years, anyone can go in front of a judge and tell one side of the story and the judge will grant the order, particularly with the clause that the individual can’t possess weapons. The flip side of the coin is that the defendant has appeal rights, but don’t think that just because you show up in court and tell the judge you’re a police officer, they will quash or modify the order. This is another benefit of having access to a criminal defense attorney at a discounted rate — they can help save your career.
As police officers, we are eligible for industrial insurance coverage if we are injured in the line of duty. Unfortunately, many people I know who have been injured in the line of duty and have gone through the industrial insurance process would rather have had a root canal done without anesthetic, as things can be tricky if forms aren’t filed properly, or if there is any type of question as to whether the injury resulted from a pre-existing condition. PLEA provides access to an attorney specializing in industrial and workers’ compensation claims to help navigate what can be a morass of paperwork and procedures. Depending on the circumstances in the event of injury or accident, you may be eligible for discounted fees of 25% (rather than 33½%) through the Napier Law Firm.
If you are killed in the line of duty, there are insurance benefits from the City as well as the federal government that will go to your family as well as any personal life insurance benefits you may have through the City. PLEA members’ beneficiaries receive an additional $50,000 for a line-of-duty death. In the event of a natural death, your beneficiaries will receive $10,000. In the event of an accidental death, the benefit will be $30,000.
As police officers we oft en say, “expect the unexpected” and “prepare for the worst, and expect the best.” Th e bottom line is that we don’t have the luxury of looking into a crystal ball to see the future and anything can happen to us at any time.
Having said all of this, please be sure that you and your family are aware of your benefits. If you have any questions, contact the PLEA office.