To Be or Not to Be…a Member

I would like to discuss whether an officer should or should not be a member of the LVPPA. Since coming to the LVPPA last August, I have had a couple of incidents with officers who were involved, one way or another, in an incident where representation would be beneficial. However, as matters unfolded, I learned that the officers were not members. Working on these incidents made me wonder why someone, in these times, would ever choose not be a member.

The first thing I thought is that perhaps these officers believed that the LVMPD family would look out for them, as it is said that they always look out for one another and help each other out. Beware of this naïve attitude. If someone in my family treated me the way the LVMPD “family” treats one another, I’d end up changing my last name. A family member has your back in good times and in bad. The LVMPD family has your back only when it’s not controversial or it is so clear-cut that anyone on the planet would side with you. The truth is that the LVMPD family only looks out for one another when it is convenient to do so, and it would put all of its children up for adoption if they spilled milk at the dinner table.

That being said, I again wonder how, in this day and age, officers still choose to not be members of the Association. To flat-out P# 13820 turn down quality representation and experienced attorneys for what? Some reasons I have heard are: “I had a bad experience in the past with people who are no longer there,” “It is too expensive to be a member for something I will never use” and “I never do anything wrong, so I don’t need them.” I have to say, these “reasons” are some of the silliest reasons ever.

This Association works on a daily basis doing everything it can for our membership. We, the members of the Executive Board who are up here full time, do it with a passion and flair, out of a desire to make the quality of life here at Metro the best it can be for our officers. Sometimes we damage relationships with people we have known for years just because we do what we do for the members. When I hear of someone who had a bad experience with either a current Board member or a past one, I always wonder how we can change the bad things that go on and make them better. If the problem is with a current Board member, there are several others here who can be used instead for any issue that may arise. When I hear people complain about the fees associated with membership, I laugh and pose to them how much an attorney would cost should they find themselves on the bad side of the LVMPD target. The hourly rate for attorneys is astonishing and would likely set you back well over what the cost of the yearly dues is. A certain other employee group (which shall remain nameless) charges super-low rates to become a member, but won’t necessarily cover your full amount for an arbitration, which is oftentimes in the range of $30,000. Couple that with the fact that, with that association, the people making decisions about the future are in another state and don’t really know anything specific about you or the agency you work for, and you have to wonder whether saving a few bucks is worth it in the long run.

And as for those officers who say they never do anything wrong, so they have no need to be a member, I have to point out that you never, ever, ever know what tomorrow is going to bring. Call to call, day in and day out, we work in an environment that can have you in a jackpot in no time. And when you’re there, fighting for your job because LVMPD says you shouldn’t have done this or that, even though you believe the law and policy support your position, imagine what will happen. You will soon be forking out large sums of money for someone to represent you, drumming up huge bills to just review our policies and procedures to get into a position of being able to provide you with a mediocre defense.

Let’s face it: The LVMPD is not what it used to be! Outside influences have created such a drive to “Monday morning quarterback” every move we make that, regardless of the kind of officer you are, you need the help of the Association. Let’s hope that with the new election, things will change for the better. Let’s hope that the new Sheriff and his staff can implement some changes that will benefit the Department. After having a few interactions with some of the command staff, I have a positive outlook on where we may be heading, but only time will tell.

In the recent past, the trend seems to be that the Department has been coming after officers for anything and everything it can. It never used to be this way. People used to come to work knowing that their bosses had their best interest at heart. The bosses were not afraid to talk to people, to mentor and coach people, to stand up to their bosses and say, “This is wrong; this officer did his or her job correctly, so leave them alone.” But we don’t have many of those people around anymore. If you find them, hang on to them and watch their backs as they do yours. But for the rest of you, you need the LVPPA to watch your back.

If you’re reading this and you are not a member, please call me, let me try to clear up any issues you have and allow me to try to convince you why it is in your best interest to join — not for me, but for you! The LVPPA can be looked at as car insurance or life insurance; you pay for it and you may never need it. But when you do, you are very thankful that you had it. Call it employment insurance. You pay for us to fight for you to keep your job and the benefits that come with it, as well as several other things we do. We need to help one another now more than ever. And if you choose to stay a non-member, I pray that you are making the right decision and you don’t ever need us. Somehow, I doubt that will be the case.