SUPPORTING LAW AND ORDER IN ARIZONA

Introduction

In Arizona, we’ve already gone above and beyond many other states in our commitment to support law enforcement, but recently a federal intervention in Phoenix, in pursuit of the same goal as the Marxist “defund the police” movement, is beginning the same assault we’ve seen elsewhere on the thin blue line right here in our great state.

It’s easy to point out that the brave men and women of Arizona law enforcement, who risk their lives every day, deserve better from our government – but this is about so much more. Without a firm commitment to public safety and the officers who enforce our laws day and night, it will be our most vulnerable citizens who suffer most.

That’s why, as governor, I’ll work with our law enforcement to restore stability, respect, and order. The public deserves it, the police deserve it, and our state deserves it.

Over the last few months, I’ve met with frontline law enforcement officers, both current and retired, to discuss the challenges they face daily and there were several recurring themes.

Law Enforcement Observations

First, the mounting challenges with recruiting and retaining sworn officers and support positions alike were vocalized in almost every conversation.

Recruitment has been an issue for years in departments across Arizona, but the problem has been exacerbated by the recent politicization of law enforcement. Formerly, major city police chiefs averaged a tenure of three to five years, but today that time is down to just 18 months.

The result? Frontline officers and employees don’t feel valued, appreciated, or that the department will go to bat for them. The result, as intended by the politicization, is low morale and a decrease in personnel. To successfully address issues within police departments, we must first restore stability to the ranks of police forces across the state. The increased overtime requirements lead to fatigued officers, which in turn can create an environment where mistakes are more common.

Another challenge faced by most departments: An overreliance on the police to resolve issues outside of their law enforcement mission.

“We should consider a mental health support team for Police modeled on the Community Assistance Program the Phoenix Fire Department uses to provide 24-7 on scene Crises intervention and support for mental health issues.”

Debora Black, Retired Prescott Police Chief & Former Glendale Police Chief

Law enforcement serves a critical mission – enforcing the law. Unfortunately, when our emergency services aren’t properly equipped to deal with a problem, it’s often the police who are called. As a result, police are not only enforcing issues of law, but also frequently assisting individuals in crisis.

While officers can handle these calls professionally, supporting them by assigning other professionals to these tasks can free up police resources and further improve the relationship between police and the public.

Adding to the standard law enforcement issues we face, our status as a border state brings with it countless challenges as Washington refuses to enforce our border.

“The Criminal Cartels will continue exploiting our southern borders for the furtherance of their violent criminal enterprise unless this administration prioritizes border security.”

Mark Dannels, Cochise County Sheriff

“The bottom line: The state can dedicate resources to assist but must still hold the federal government accountable for securing the border.”

Mark Lamb, Pinal County Sheriff

Already-strained law enforcement officers across the state are left to confront not only domestic American offenders, but also foreign nationals illegally entering (and often re-entering) the nation endlessly.

Truly effective control of our nation’s border requires prioritization and support from Washington, D.C. But, rather than secure our border, the Biden Administration is advertising that America is open for illegal immigration, attempting to end the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy, and terminating contracts to finish construction of the border wall, among many other decisions that have resulted in chaos on Arizona’s southern border. In the absence of federal leadership, statewide initiatives, namely the Gang & Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission (GIITEM), the Border Strike Force, and deployment of the Arizona National Guard, can assist frontline officers in enforcing the law and maintaining order in our communities.

Initial Recommendations

Restore Stability

Strengthen Law Enforcement Ranks

  • Provide time-based incentive bonuses for new officers to encourage recruits to join the force and remain on the job.
  • Build a Scholarship Program for Law Enforcement academy enrollees to ensure every community member has the opportunity to join the ranks of our officers.
  • Adjust Arizona’s Correctional Officer pay scale to boost talent recruitment and officer retention.
  • Assist qualified, out-of-state officers seeking to join the Arizona law enforcement community by covering certain fees on certifications and training.
  • Utilize funding obtained through the federal government’s COVID-19 relief packages to supplement law enforcement and corrections officers’ needs resulting from their increased duty and service during the pandemic.

Restore Respect

Continue the Ongoing Communication with Departments Statewide

  • Ensure law enforcement leadership statewide can communicate about critical issues through regular access with the governor directly as opposed to staff.

Build Police-Community Interactions

  • Use the power of the governor’s office to fight any effort to defund or degrade law enforcement budgets and capabilities employing the budgetary, legislative, and regulatory wherewithal of the executive branch to hold accountable elected officials and localities that risk the safety of their residents. Further, ensure resident and community safety will never be forsaken in any jurisdiction regardless of efforts by the far left by supporting law enforcement with the use of local sheriffs and Arizona troopers to protect and defend.
  • Dissuade mob violence by enhancing penalties for crimes committed during violent assemblies, which often include assaults on police.
  • Boost protections for victims by strengthening laws against physical intimidation and cyber-intimidation.
  • Prevent vehicle-related accidents by enhancing penalties against those who block roadways, obstruct travelers, and interfere with commercial transportation as their means of protesting.
  • Continue regular community engagement events to ensure that law enforcement can receive feedback from the communities that they are protecting.

Protect On-Duty Officers

  • Enhance penalties for individuals blocking on-duty emergency vehicles or access to public safety facilities.
  • Any assault against any officer can never be tolerated. Therefore, ensure the law allows those who assault police with non-traditional weapons, like laser pointers and fireworks, to be fully prosecuted with criminal penalties.

Put an End to Kangaroo Court ‘Civilian Review Boards’

  • Work with legislative and local leaders to end the practice of municipal politicians filling ‘civilian review boards’ with partisan anti-police activists who exploit subpoena power in order to undermine law enforcement officers’ due process rights.

Restore Order

Ensure the Legal System is Firm and Fair

  • Working in concert with law enforcement, examine reforms to sentencing laws to protect our state and deter crime, while still providing a fair opportunity for individuals to pay back their debt to society and work to become productive citizens once again.

Prioritize and Defend Against Statewide Threats to Law and Order

  • Classify cartels as the international terrorist organizations they are and combat them appropriately.
  • Fully fund and support AZDPS’s GIITEM to maximize law enforcement’s effects on gangs and border security.
  • Continue to refine the scope of the Border Strike Force and streamline the process so that we can assist local law enforcement, prosecute illegal immigrants for violations of Arizona law, and ensure our leaders in law enforcement have the resources they both need and deserve.
  • Direct the Arizona National Guard Adjutant General to ensure Guardsmen are fully utilized in assisting local law enforcement in their border mission.

Use Every Tool at Our Disposal

  • Invest in technology to lower enforcement costs near the border, including installation and maintenance of cameras.
  • Work with the federal government to cut red tape and move quicker on implementing advanced border monitoring and enforcement technology.

Finish the wall along the southern border so that anyone entering our nation understands we prize our sovereignty and respect our laws.

Conclusion

Societies don’t exist in a vacuum. The first duty of government is safeguarding the public’s life and property by authoring responsible laws and enforcing them equally. If the government can’t do this, all the social programs in the world won’t discourage the lawless from taking advantage of the powerless.

Today, we face not only criminals, but also a concerted movement to marginalize and demoralize law enforcement by driving a wedge between officers and the communities they protect every day. I won’t let that happen in Arizona. As your governor, I will be committed to ensuring the safety of our citizens and maintaining the integrity of both our laws and our law enforcement officers.

We’ve seen what works, across big cities and small towns, and we know how to ensure crime drops. As your next governor, I will work tirelessly with the men and women of Arizona’s law enforcement community to implement policies that keep Arizona safe, secure, and prosperous.