One of my favorite movies is Crimson Tide, which is about a mutiny on a nuclear submarine. There is a scene where an executive officer (played by Denzel Washington) is talking to the submarine’s captain (played by Gene Hackman) about the morale of the sailors on the submarine. The executive officer tells the captain that morale is down. The captain responds, telling the executive officer that he seems to have the pulse of the men, and then gets on the submarine’s intercom system and tells every sailor on board that if they are not happy, they can leave the submarine right now. As he says this, the submarine is hundreds of feet under the ocean.
As one of your full-time LVPPA representatives, I try to keep my finger on the pulse of the men and women we represent. Lately, I have been seeing comments on social media from unknown officers discussing union issues regarding the PPA not being the best officer representation. The PPA has a better than 90% membership rate among LVMPD’s commissioned police force, so those types of comments do not bother us very much. However, the comments did get me thinking that maybe officers have forgotten exactly what we do.
Besides bargaining the contract and representing officers in internal LVMPD hearings, there are many other services that we provide to the membership that may get overlooked. There are eight full-time reps, and the expectation from LVPPA President Steve Grammas is, no matter the time of day or night, if our work phone rings, we answer it. Also, if an officer needs us to respond after hours, we will get dressed and go to where we are needed. Every full-time rep at the LVPPA has responded on RDOs to an officer’s location to help with use-of-force reports or disputes with supervisors. The point I am trying to make is, when you call, we answer and respond. I know for a fact that other representative organizations do not provide that kind of service.
The PPA also has access to every member of the command staff and often speaks to them daily about issues that affect our members. One of the funniest comments I read referred to PPA as being “lap dogs” to the LVMPD Sheriff. While we do have a decent working relationship with him as of late, we have still filed numerous lawsuits against LVMPD on behalf of all the membership regarding special event overtime pay, refusing to bargain safety issues with new polices and CIRT notice wording, just to name a few. No other representative organization has, to my knowledge, taken the kind of legal action that the PPA has. We also spend our summers going to triple squad days at every area command, for every shift, to keep the membership informed on Department and union issues.
Many detractors may say that it’s our job to do all of those things, which it is. My point to this entire article is, no other organization has the access, the knowledge of Department policy or the intestinal fortitude to do what the LVPPA does for our members. Every single LVPPA rep is a commissioned officer who has either worked the decks at CCDC or pushed a black and white as a patrol officer. When we represent you in CIRT, Internal Affairs or a Use of Force Review Board, we bring our expertise with us and use it to defend you. Other organizations send an attorney with very little knowledge of policy who tries to treat the interview like a courtroom examination, which does you, the officer, no good. The LVPPA will always have detractors, but our goal is to have as close to 100% membership as we can get, because we feel like we provide the best service and representation. As always, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (702) 468-0766.