by William Birdseye

Eighteen months ago, the POAM Executive Board committed some of its financial resources and support staff to make our web site one of the most dynamic sources of police and labor information in the country. We started by hiring a professional expert in the field, Trademark Productions, to totally revamp and update our site with all the latest and greatest features and technology. One year later, www.poam. net has become the most hit-upon police union website in the country. We have built a springboard for instant communication with our members and easy access to an on-going library of valuable information for the law enforcement profession. This site allows local associations to publicize events and fundraisers, provides legal information including a printable Garrity form, has links to law enforcement-related web sites and preferred vendors, information on all of our previous seminars, and much, much more. On a weekly basis, POAM receives a dozen or more requests for additional informa- tion on subjects like 12-hour shifts, Garrity information and arbitration results. Leadership at POAM has been directing local collective bargaining units to the web site to read and print off important information. Over the last couple of years, we have weaned the Law Enforcement Journal from publication four times a year to a semi-annual publication, printed in the spring and fall of each year. The web site needs to be your first source of information, because timeliness is paramount to mounting the proper response. A perfect example of that would be the slew of anti-union leg- islation introduced in February that was rushed through the House within a few weeks with little or no debate or input from affected parties. When HB 4502 was introduced repealing compulsory arbitration for police officers (Act 312), the web site acted as an instant information re- source to our members as Legislative Director Kenneth Grabowski and Michigan Legislative Consultants Lobbyist Tim Ward were meeting with House members and Senators on its impact. POAM members quickly backed up Grabowski’s voice with letters and an e-mail blast to every House member and Senator about their opposition to the legislation. We compiled every legislator’s e-mail address, drafted a letter and with three clicks of the mouse, each member sent an e-mail to all 138 politicians. In the end, hundreds of e-mails were sent on HB 4502 and nearly as many went out on HB 4152, which was an attempted run-around on our effec- tive lobbying against HB 4502 (go to web site for more details). Some House members called us after that e-mail blast and said they were mis- informed on the bill and other senators called us thanking us for the ad- vance warning. That call to action was generated by an emergency e-mail blast from POAM asking members to access the web site and follow through on our directive. But I want you to consider this: POAM has e-mail addresses for only about 25% of our members. Imagine what kind of impact we would have if we could triple the number of e-mail addresses in our da- tabase. How will a politician act when they receive thousands of e-mails from POAM members when they introduce or support anti-police legisla- tion? This activity in Lansing should be a wake-up call to all of you. You need to speak up or your rights will be trampled. Providing our office with a valid e-mail address and answering a simple call to action is the first step in safeguarding your career and maintaining your collective bargaining rights. Decades ago POAM promised to never divulge any member’s mailing address or allow any member to be a target for solicitation. We’ve never broken that commitment. That same promise holds true for your e-mail addresses. Your mission today is to notify the POAM staff of your e-mail address so we can keep you current on these types of issues. Work e-mail will do just fine. But whether you like it or not, it’s time to utilize 21st century technology and strategies to safeguard our profession.