First, I hope the new year finds you happy and healthy. I also want to personally thank my Executive Board, Scott Nicholas, Bryan Yant, Mike Ramirez, Tyler Todd, Kirk Hooten and Myron Hamm, for their amazing work over the last year and a half. Another huge thank-you goes to our incredible staff, David Roger, Kelly Sweeney, Laura Paletta, Roy Hoernke and our amazing event coordinator Adella Solano. It is very important for our membership to know how crucial each one of these people is to the success of the LVPPA. I have tasked them all with things this Association has never done before, and they have risen to the occasion time and time again. We would not be in the position that we are in now if it weren’t for these people. So, from me to my staff, we thank you.
Toward the end of summer last year, Scott and I decided that things needed to change at the PPA. That’s not to say I think Mark Chaparian, Chris Collins and David Kallas did not do things right. They put us in the position to be able to do the things we do today, and my hat is off to them for their commitment to this Association while they were here. However, our goal for the future of this Association was to enhance the benefits we offer our members. With the help of Bryan Yant, Scott and I created a flyer that contained some campaign promises, and I would like to update you all on those.
- Assist members 24/7. This is by far the most important part of our campaign. We know that our members need to be able to reach the Executive Board at all hours of the day. We have been extremely successful in this arena — so much so that LVMPD felt compelled to remove us from the Department-wide communicator to prevent us from arriving too quickly at critical incidents. Not only do we still arrive quickly, but we also now have the involvement of the entire membership calling and texting us about incidents to make sure we are the first to arrive. I also ensured that this Executive Board is composed of officers that understand the need to be accessible to our folks 24/7, no matter how small a situation may seem. A simple situation to one of us may no doubt feel like the world is crashing down on your shoulders, and when you feel that way, you need a representative to be there to answer the phone and spend time talking to you.
- Fight to increase pay and benefits. At the beginning of my time as president, we finalized negotiations on a three-year contract. In that contract, we built in COLAs and significantly increased our clothing allowance. But one of the biggest victories was due to us looking to the future regarding body-worn cameras (BWCs). During the end of negotiations, Mike Ramirez came to me and said that legislation was going to be passing in the coming session about a mandate for BWCs. With this in mind, and knowing the Department wanted BWCs on officers, Scott and I made a push with LVMPD to bring a 1% COLA addition to the current package we were negotiating. LVMPD agreed, and the new CBA was born. We had our share of officers opposing the BWCs, but we asked that you all trust our decision. To this day, our CBA is a model that other police associations have used, as it relates to a pay increase for equipment. The media even did a story on how the LVPPA “tricked” the taxpayers into compensation for cameras when, as we predicted, it turned out to be mandated by law at the 2017 session.
- Lobby for enhanced punishment for crimes against officers. Mike Ramirez spends the entire legislative session, from February until almost the end of June, living in Carson City. One of the topics I had Mike try to push through was some form of added punishment to crimes against officers. Mike worked day in and day out with different senators during the session, continually pushing for this type of legislation. In the end, Senator Ford brought forth and passed Senate Bill 541, which “adds prison time of one year to 20 years for felonies committed against police officers, firefighters or emergency medical personnel acting in their normal course of duty.” We still have some work to do in this forum, but it is a great start and holds a very promising future.
- Give back to the membership. This was the promise that I feel we have exceeded. One of our first steps in this area was to gain a dues freeze for our members, ensuring for the time being (back in 2016) that the rate a member paid did not go up with the new COLA. Never before had a dues freeze been done, as far as we are aware of, as the Bylaws were never built with the ability to do such a thing. Then came the summer of 2017. Scott and I not only asked for a freeze once more, but we also asked for a groundbreaking reduction. While the amount was small, it was a way to touch every member in some small fashion. This also had never been done in the history of the PPA. We were able to do this because of men like Chaparian, Collins and Kallas, who worked to bring our assets up to a point that now allows us to roll out the reduction. But we didn’t stop there! We have incorporated Golden Knights Hockey games, UNLV football tailgates, UNLV basketball events, nights at Gravady and the LV 51s. We also run our annual Trunk or Treat, which saw over 500 attendees this year, and our always popular Santa Day. We push out tickets to concerts, Lakers basketball, NASCAR and one of our most supportive groups, the UFC. Our general membership events have us giving out dinners, golf outings, handguns, flashlights and anything else we can get our hands on. We purchased the OIS RV, which has been worth its weight in gold, as our officers involved in critical incidents have had a nice, comfortable place to decompress after a high-stress situation. It is for all of the above reasons that our membership rate is at an all-time high.
Looking back, I feel that Scott and I have made good on every promise we’ve made. I’m not sure anyone who has ever run for office can say that, but I am very happy to say that we can. These are just a few things that we have been able to accomplish over the last year and a half, and what is great is that we know there is still more that we can do. We continue to explore the idea of building a more centrally located PPA building, complete with a members-only gym, lounge, locker rooms, sleep area and banquet hall for our members to rent. We won’t stop until we have one of the best associations in the country, and we are definitely on our way.
Thank you all for being a part of this Association and for allowing me to be your president. I have never had a more honorable and personally satisfying position in my life. I will never lose sight of why I do what I do and who I am doing it for. Thank you, and stay safe.