Provided by the Arizona Highway Patrol Association (AHPA)
PHOENIX — With 4th of July weekend coming up, the Arizona Highway Patrol Association (AHPA) is concerned that public safety will not be at its optimal levels if the State of Arizona's budget is not finalized by tomorrow night. The effects of no budget will leave Arizonans with nearly 50% less officers on the roads and a significant cut in support staff - leaving Department of Public Safety employees unsure of their jobs, financial outlook and the conditions of safety on the Arizona roads they seek to protect.
"One of the busiest times of the year for DPS officers is 4th of July weekend," states Sgt. Jimmy Chavez, President of the AHPA. "This weekend and beyond, the AHPA have some serious concerns that public safety will be jeopardized if the budget is not finalized by 12:00am July 1st."
Talks confirm that with an unresolved budget, nearly 50% of the department’s uniformed officers will be furloughed, while the remainder handle enforcement activities and calls for service, support staff will be cut drastically (including those civilians in the crime labs and dispatch) and whole units, like the commercial vehicle enforcement squad, will be inactive- waiting for the budget to be finalized. "You can imagine that officers are expressing that they are worried about their jobs, how this will affect their finances and their families, along with the reason why they got into this profession in the first place - to protect the public," said Chavez.
Chavez states that the lack of communication has concerned membership. "As of this morning, all employees of DPS do not know if they will be working Wednesday or not. The only communication they have heard has been through their chain-of-command within the agency. We have not been given any information from the Governor’s office regarding the possibility of a partial shutdown of State service. Surely maintaining public safety is a priority of the Governor and the Legislature,” says Chavez.
Chavez adds that DPS is already operating with almost 100 fewer officers than it needs for full staffing. “Fewer officers on the streets will put the citizens of Arizona at risk.”
The AHPA hopes that the legislature and Governor will come to an agreement soon, for the sake of public safety and DPS officers. Founded in 1958, the AHPA's mission is to promote the positive role of Law Enforcement Professionals, and to protect and secure rights and benefits for their members through effective representation with local, state and national governments.