On May12, 2008, at the NAPO TOP COPS Awards ceremony at the Warner Theater in Washington, D. C. PLEA members Officer Bruce Byron, Officer Dolan Crawford, and Officer Steve Tatge were honored for their courageous police action. These officers received a call of a suspicious male at the food court at Metro Center Mall who was armed with an Uzi. Upon arrival, Officer Tatge made contact with one witness while Officers Byron and Crawford searched the food court area. Officers Crawford and Byron subsequently contacted another “witness” who related that the suspicious male had left the mall. Both Officers noticed that this “witness” was acting suspicious himself and asked him to show them which exit he had seen the male depart from. This allowed them to radio Officer Tatge in order to have his witness determine if their “witness” was indeed the actual suspicious person. Tatge’s witness confirmed that their “witness” was the suspicious male seen earlier with an Uzi. At that time, Officer Crawford grabbed the male”s left arm. The suspect responded by pulling his gun from his waist band with his right hand. An impact push by Officer Byron caused the suspect to spin away from Officer Crawford. Officer Byron then immediately placed the suspect in a low bear hug in an attempt to prevent him from raising his arms to fire the gun. Despite Officer Byron’s efforts, the suspect managed to raise the weapon toward Officer Tatge who had rushed over to assist. The suspect fired one round. Fortunately, the round missed its mark and Officers Crawford and Tatge reacted immediately. Each officer fired one round, stopping the armed suspect. PLEA extends our thanks and congratulations to these heroes.
In addition to the TOP COPS ceremony, PLEA President Mark Spencer, Vice Grievance Chair Dave Kothe and I attended the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Candlelight Vigil. Over 300 law enforcement officers were added to the Memorial this year. 181 of which paid the ultimate price in 2007. Two of these fallen officers were our very own – George Cortez and Nick Erfle. Arizona lost three other sworn law enforcement personnel – Anthony Holly from the Glendale Police Department, Tate Lynch from the Casa Grand Police Department, and Philip Rodriguez from the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office. Lest we never forget their sacrifice.
We also attended the NAPO executive board meeting in which several legislative issues where discussed in preparation for our visits on Capitol Hill. PLEA President Mark Spencer and I met with Congressman John Shadegg and Ed Pastor as well as the staff of Congressman Jeff Flake and Senators John Kyle and John McCain. We discussed H.R. 980, the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act which allows collective bargaining for all public safety officers if they choose. Our police management team and the IACP opposed this bill. We also encouraged our congressional representatives to support the return of $480 million in funding to the Byrne’s Justice Assistance Grant which will restore funding for local gang and crime suppression enforcement. Other issues mentioned were immigration, social security/government pension off-set, and H.R.3547 – the “Gang Prevention, Intervention and Suppression Act.” For additional NAPO legislative issues go to www.napo.org.