Starting next week, Phoenix police officers will have to wear what the chief calls a more professional look. The union isn't happy about it, saying they are hot and uncomfortable - and they're playing hardball.
We first broke this story in July. The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association says they hoped to sit down with the chief and have constructive talks over the uniform change. But they say one side has been doing all the talking, and you can guess which one. "Come on, really? We weren't professional before you got here?" asked PLEA Vice President Ken Crane. He said a lot of officers have been asking that question since they were told to trade their cargo pants and polo shirts for dress pants and button-up shirts.
"We just see this as a very sudden, knee-jerk reaction," Crane said. He said the new uniforms aren't as cool in the summer and don't have a utility vest, so it'll put more strain on officers' lower backs. So they recently sent a pretty fired up letter to Police Chief Daniel Garcia and included it in their most recent newsletter, saying he's close to the precipice of failure and inciting poor morale.
"Our patience is wearing thin, and I think certainly the patients of our members is wearing thin," Crane said.
In the newsletter, PLEA compares the chief to a kid putting his hand in the cookie jar and even said they'll smack it away if they have to. We asked PLEA if it's safe to say now they're playing hardball.
"Well, certainly it can be looked up that way," Crane said.
PLEA filed a grievance, and the city held four meetings where officers expressed their concerns. But PLEA said they met with Garcia Tuesday and were told Garcia was denying the grievance.
We asked Phoenix police for an on-camera interview. They declined but said the changes are going into effect as planned on Oct. 1. But PLEA says that doesn't mean this is over.
"We have a saying in this business - conflict is inevitable but combat is optional," Crane said.
PLEA said that letter to Garcia is nice compared to what may be in the future. They have two options from here - meet with a higher-up in the city and also hire an arbitrator to try and work things out.
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