Stay Focused on the Goal
Written by Chief Gerald Monahan October 31, 2008
In our Fall message, we focused on member involvement in committees and preparation for our collective "pilgrimage" to Tallahassee during the upcoming legislative session. In am very pleased to report that the response has been outstanding. Many members have volunteered for committees, special assignments, board appointments and committed time to join us in Tallahassee during session.
Since my last message there has been much activity that is critical to our membership and must be conveyed. The FPCA Board of Directors met on September 25, 2008 in Orlando in a very lively, protracted and informative meeting. Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Commissioner Gerald Bailey briefed the board on FDLE's current fiscal year's budget cuts of 4% or 8.6 million dollars. There was also lengthy discussion on possible cuts to the FY 2008-2009 budget of 10% or 18.5 million dollars. These proposed cuts can only be characterized as having dire consequences on FDLE's ability to provide critical services for our citizens and Florida law enforcement. You can view both of these lists by clicking here: FDLE List
Pursuant to board discussions, we sent a letter to the Governor expressing our adamant objections to such cuts and pledged our complete cooperation in seeking alternatives to these drastic measures. A copy of the letter may be viewed by clicking here: Gov FDLE Cuts
This correspondence initiated a call from the Governor's office asking to meet with FPCA leadership. On October 22nd members of the executive board including Third VP Chief Paul Sireci, Secretary/Treasurer Chief Jay Romine, Legislative Committee Chair Chief Lester Aradi, Director Amy Mercer and FPCA Lobbyist Frank Mayernick joined me in attending the meeting with members of the Governor's Staff.
This meeting afforded us an opportunity to provide the Staff members with our legislative priorities and express our specific concerns regarding the consequence of such drastic cuts none the least of which was the financial burden FDLE cuts would ultimately put on all other law enforcement agencies in the State. We also made it very clear that the Chiefs of Police from around the State of Florida were going to become highly visible in the halls of the Capitol during the legislative session and they would be seeing and hearing much more from us in the future on issues such as law enforcement funding, unfunded mandates and Florida's crime rate.
We were informed that revenue shortfalls were looking worse than the original projections. Our response was that we are all willing to do whatever we can to mitigate this crisis however, of all the services provided by state and local government, public safety can not be compromised and that will be the message we carry to the Capitol. We did receive feedback on the meeting in the form of a letter from Mr. Randy Ball, the Governor's policy coordinator which can be viewed by clicking here: Gov Response
While members of the entire group felt this was a positive meeting and a large step in the right direction, it is far from time to do any back slapping. Within a week we were called by the Governor's office asking our opinion on changing Florida Statute 948.06 regarding local law enforcement voluntarily transporting violators for Probation and Parole to making said task mandatory.
It didn't take long to get the reaction from our District Directors that we expected regarding this proposed unfunded mandate. This mandate has obvious negative consequences to local law enforcement agencies many of whom have already had their resources depleted. The consequences of removing officers from their patrol zones for prolonged periods of time on a regular basis further compromises our ability to provide the type of service that our communities require.
In response to this latest burgeoning "crisis" we sent another letter to the Governor expressing our strenuous objection to this proposed unfunded mandate. This letter may be viewed by clicking here: Gov 948.06
What we have learned over the last year is that this is just the beginning of what is going to be a critical time for our Association and all Florida law enforcement. We have been inundated by unprecedented numbers of requests from other agencies and associations to join their causes, participate on their boards and attend their meetings and conferences. It is clear to these groups that the Florida Police Chiefs Association has the ability to make an impact on matters that even go beyond pubic safety in our State.
The new legislative session is sure to bring changes that will have consequences on all of our agencies. We have the ability as an Association to provide invaluable input for our legislators that will facilitate decisions made in the best interest of our citizens. For those who cannot make the trip to Tallahassee, it is important that you carry our legislative agenda from your office to your local legislators.
An important element of success will be keeping our membership informed on a timely basis. To that end we will continue to communicate through our e-mail network and will also post information, including this message, instantaneously on our website. We have made it clear in Tallahassee that we will step up to meet these crises with all the fervor and energy of our 787 members. The response of our membership to date is a clear indication that this pledge is in motion. Let's stay focused on the goal. Thank you all for your loyalty to our Association and dedication to our profession.
Chief Gerald Monahan