Tucson Police officers’ jobs are getting tougher and tougher these days. Almost every day there is news of some violent crime, and just this month, Tucson won national notariety for the attacks on patrol officers and Border Patrol agents by immigration protestors who surrounded the officers while taking an illegal alien into custody.
None of that seems to bother the officers who know that they were just doing their job. However, it does appear that the lack of support and constant harping by Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik has caused them to speak out in an open letter to the community.
The Tucson Police Officers’ Association message to the Tucson Community:
Recently, the Arizona Daily Star published an interview with Councilman Steve Kozachik and unfortunately, the Tucson Police Officers Association once again finds itself in the unfortunate position of correcting a number of the falsehoods contained in that interview.
The Police Officers of this community are simply sick and tired of being inappropriately attacked over compensation and pension issues.
Councilman Kozachik inaccurately states in his interview that “we need to end the DROP,” which is a statewide employee retention system. What he fails to mention is that the DROP program rests solely in the control and authority of the state legislature who already has eliminated the program for future hires effective in 2012.
Of course, he also fails to mention that the DROP program actually saves the pension system money, by retaining employees longer, and for a lower rate of pay in retirement.
The falsehoods continue:
The Councilman states in his interview that we need “t-shirt security” instead of Police Officers to work large community events. This statement is categorically false. If an organization, group, or company want Police Officers at their event, they pay for them. This is not a General Fund obligation to the City.
Councilman Kozachik attacks the Mayor’s Protective Detail, which is also in charge of the Police Department’s Alternative Response Unit. This Unit serves multiple purposes, one of which is providing important law enforcement service to citizens over the phone. This has the dual benefit of reducing the amount of time a citizen must wait for an officer and freeing up officers in the street to respond to priority calls for service.
Interestingly, it has come to our attention that the Councilman may have recently given his Ward Office staff pay raises, while at the same time rejecting raises for other City employees. We have filed a Freedom of Information Request with the City Clerk’s Office to verify this information. We anticipate a quick response from the Clerk’s Office and we will release the information in a subsequent press release.
The Tucson Police Department has not seen a raise or a cost of living increase in over six years. The State Legislature has slashed our pensions. Our Officers have suffered through furloughs, cutbacks, increases in pension and medical contributions that lower take home pay, and more.
In short, we’ve suffered the same as many other citizens have here in Tucson during this economic downturn. Yet, our members additionally live through constant attacks on their profession that seem to have become the norm from those who call themselves leaders in our community.
Enough is enough.
The Tucson Police Officers Association remains angry and puzzled over Councilman Kozachik’s statements and actions. In one breath, the councilman speaks to the importance of “truth and accuracy” but in the next breath provides inaccurate and untruthful information.
The Police Officers of our community are not to blame for the budget downturn nor is cutting their wages or benefits an acceptable solution for it.
As a council member, Mr. Kozachik has a responsibility to ensure he is putting out honest information to the citizens of this community rather than obscuring the real issue by spreading misinformation. He owes the public the “truth and accuracy” he refers to. It’s the very least he can do.