MARCH 21, 2012
Arizona’s personnel reform bill: Highway Patrol employees start educational campaign today for legislators and the public
“We are DPS” - Police civilians want same standards as sworn officers
Arizona – Per Governor Brewer, the legislature is hearing House Bill 2571 in efforts to reform due process for state employees. During recent Senate and House Committees, the members of the Arizona Highway Patrol Association (AHPA) heard misconceptions about the similarities between how private business and police operate. In response, AHPA members and their families are rolling out an educational campaign today entitled: “We are DPS”.
AHPA is asking the Governor and legislature to not generalize the law enforcement profession with other state agencies or private businesses. “Our members feel that legislators are comparing the police profession to the private sector,” states Jimmy Chavez, president of the AHPA. “However, what other industry can you be investigated and lose your livelihood three different ways (criminally, civilly and administratively) for doing your job?”
The association is attempting to educate delegates about some of the services DPS provides through their campaign entitled, “We are DPS.” Current and retired police employees, family and friends are participating in promotion through attending legislative hearings, videos, emails, letters and social media (#WEAREDPS). AHPA members hope their campaign profiles some of the civilian police services the public does not often see or hear about.
Over the years, increased law enforcement related duties have been mandated to DPS and some of those responsibilities have been passed on to DPS’ exemplary, cost-effective support staff. Each specialized employee contributes a significant job to a unit within DPS’ multi-faceted department. “Civilians pass rigorous background checks, are entrusted with sensitive information and help protect the public,” says Chavez. “From the DNA analyst that provides crucial evidence about a missing child to the investigator that tracks a sex offender, civilians are vital roles in DPS’ elite police network Sworn officers and civilians, together, encounter dangers and provide citizens essential law enforcement services.”
AHPA opposes the language in the personnel reform bill that removes about 1,000 Department of Public Safety (DPS) civilians from their current Law Enforcement Merit System Council. “We have some of the best civilian police employees,” states Jimmy Chavez, President of the AHPA. “They want to be held to the same standards as a sworn officer. I believe that is a testament to the integrity and dedication of these public servants.” It is AHPA’s position that the current law enforcement merit system council for DPS employees provides one standard of service within a specialized industry.