Summer Message from the President
I’m fortunate to receive regular updates/journals/emails from a variety of organizations across the nation that are pertinent to law enforcement and those organizations like POAM that support or represent first responders. Some of those include the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards. Other regular contributions come from the Detroit Police Officers Association, the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, and the Thin Blue Line, the monthly report from the Los Angeles Police Protective League.
I’m sure it will come as no surprise that recruiting new and retaining current officers is somewhat universal. There are some efforts out there to remedy these matters but even the best and most obvious efforts have little impact. The City of Detroit and DPOA entered into a contract earlier this year that ranks among the best they have ever experienced. I’m so happy that our friends in the Detroit PD are getting closer to what they have always deserved. It has some positive results. Of course, it is still difficult to find good candidates on short notice but, as I understand it, some of those that had left DPD for the suburbs are now returning to the City. That is good news for Detroit. Department leadership had told several of us in a meeting that the City had spent several million dollars over the past few years hiring and training officers that no longer worked there. That can be debilitating to any department. The chief has surrounded himself with a good team and they are doing their best. Nothing comes easily or quickly though.
Things are not as positive in the LAPD, however. The VP of the LAPPL reported (on her personal FB page) that she encouraged officers to ditch the city and find work elsewhere during unsuccessful salary negotiations with the city. “Go somewhere that respects the work you do and you don’t have to beg for a great contract. Go somewhere that has a city council or city manager that openly acknowledges the great work you do, go somewhere that doesn’t have two or more City Council members who hate you (no exaggeration).”
The Defund the Police chant is a badge of honor in many of our country’s largest cities. LA is certainly among those. We are fortunate that the Detroit Mayor has been supportive of the police budgets and the DPD chief and that he has had some success in influencing the Detroit City Council. Maybe the DPD chief should extend a welcome to those Los Angeles officers that are well-trained and eager to work in a big city with supportive leadership!
Our friends in Wisconsin continue to do their best even while reporting that “law enforcement staffing has reached historic lows while the number of violent crimes and assaults on Wisconsin officers has grown significantly. The WPPL president, Nichelle Nelson, reports that financial support from employers is “stagnant” and that “elected officials at every level of government have failed to equip us with the resources and staffing we need to keep the public and ourselves safe.”
Closer to home, the Michigan Senate has put together at least 14 proposals for amendments to current or creation of new laws affecting your job. They support this effort by referring to a recent poll by YouGov in Michigan. That poll stated (in part) that 78% of voters believe officers should be required to give a verbal warning before using force so that individuals have a chance to comply. 71% of voters support a policy requiring Michigan police officers to exhaust all available de-escalation strategies in the course of police conduct. You can guess where these numbers led them.
One bill will guarantee anonymity for an individual who files a misconduct complaint against a law enforcement officer.
Another makes it a misdemeanor for an officer to knowingly and intentionally remove, alter, conceal, destroy, or otherwise tamper with evidence achieved with a body-worn camera or to knowingly and intentionally deactivate a body camera while using excessive force.
Other bills being presented provide that the AG has the authority to oversee an investigation and initiate charges in certain cases; revoke your Garrity protection if it is determined that you were untruthful during the interview; specify that a foot pursuit should not be initiated for a minor, nonviolent offense that poses no imminent danger.
I have done my best, on numerous occasions, to convince the legislature that while providing grants to offer academy training to new recruits is helpful, the list of candidates will continue to be shorter than what is needed until we begin to restore traditionally recognized benefits to the 15-25 year officers who have always been our best recruiters! Those “senior” officers who young people used to seek employment advice from now tell the young person to “go find a job in the private sector.” What used to be seen as an honorable job that would allow a young person to retire at 55 or so with a defined benefit pension and health care until 65 has become permanently damaged.
Let’s take care of those who have already committed to this profession so that they will become the ones who are encouraging young people to pick law enforcement. Let’s restore the defined benefit pension, the DROP plan and some form of healthcare benefit from the date of retirement through 65 years of age for those who have committed most of their adult lives to this profession!