Most people would agree that the world of law enforcement is not the place for strident political agendas. So when an ideological organization whose lobbying activities are being challenged by the secretary of state starts pushing for changes that affect front line police officers, the law enforcement community stands up and takes notice.
The Goldwater Institute-promoted SB1064 — attractively, yet misleadingly titled the “Freedom Bill” — opens the door to privatizing law enforcement. The measure, designed by people who don’t have to enforce it, without the input of the people who do, will lead to law enforcement micromanagement. Last week, the legislation was wisely rejected by the Senate Rules Committee.
As defined by the Goldwater Institute, freedom apparently consists of getting rid of criminal penalties and limiting funding for police. The organization supports legalizing marijuana for recreational use and opposes using the forfeiture of assets from drug and human smuggling cartels to pay for police operations.
Freedom is a virtue appealed to by adherents of the Goldwater Institute even when defending bad behavior. When Alan Kors, a senior fellow at the institute, opposed sexual harassment rules at the University of Maryland, he told the Houston Chronicle, “What our universities are teaching students is that freedom should die in their hearts.”
Most recently, the Goldwater Institute is suing the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA) over its negotiated contract with the city of Phoenix, which provides release time for several officers whose job it is to advocate for the safety and welfare of 2,500 police officers.
It is because of the research and tenacity of PLEA in exposing safety problems with the primary patrol vehicle used by most police departments around the country that led to national press coverage.
This, in turn, ultimately resulted in a redesign of the vehicle by the Ford Motor Company.
Recently, PLEA testing revealed that some of the bullet resistant vests used by officers on the street did not meet safety standards.
That led to an immediate departmentwide recall of the vests. That effort was not only covered by Arizona media, but also by such national publications as The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post and the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Last year, another senior fellow at the Goldwater Institute said, “What’s really disgusting is the natural instinct of so many conservatives to stick up for the police.” You’d think that people of every political stripe would have that natural instinct, but apparently not.
Again and again, the Goldwater Institute’s followers have made clear their belief that you can be a friend of the institute or you can be a friend of law enforcement — but you can’t be both.
— Joe Clure is president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA).