On 2020, the PROTEC17 Law Enforcement Task Force formed to engage in conversations around public safety and calls for change to law enforcement professions. In order to best serve the needs of PROTEC17 members working in public safety positions, the Task Force created a survey in 2021 to assess their colleagues’ needs and interests in an effort to increase support and union power.
In January, the Task Force held two meetings for PROTEC17 law enforcement and public safety members. Participants from across the region, ranging from Washington State Patrol Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officers to City of Seattle Municipal Court Probation Counselors, came to look at the survey results, brainstorm solutions, and share their stories.
According to the survey of law enforcement members:
- 91% of members working in public safety believe their job improves the safety of the community they serve;
- But only 31% of them believe the public understands and appreciates how the work of our members makes the public safer.
- 81% believe it would be helpful for elected officials in their jurisdiction to participate in things like worksite visits and education efforts.
- Only 40% feel they can raise issues related to improving public safety and their employer listens.
- 69% are concerned that calls to re-organize and reform public safety could have a negative impact on their jobs,
- But 66% believe that it is possible to re-organize structures and systems of law enforcement in a way that maintains their positions.
During the meetings, members shared powerful personal stories about working in law enforcement and being in danger at work or at home because of their job. Some of them work closely with detectives or have family members who are officers. Alternately, some have family members who have been victims of police violence. Survey respondents and meeting participants agreed that gathering law enforcement and public safety members together to learn and hear from each other was an important activity for our union to engage in.
Eighty percent of survey respondents said that our union’s role in the broader discussion for a reimagined safety system is to protect union jobs and ensure they remain stable with benefits, wages and a union contract. Sixty-seven percent said they would like to see our union engage more in advocating collectively to raise standards and improve their workplace. Over half think their union’s role is to advocate for safe communities with our unique role of representing members in law enforcement. The survey responses reinforced that these bread-and-butter union issues are just as important as ever.
After hearing from members who work in law enforcement and public safety, a few plans have emerged. PROTEC17’s new Legislative Director, Brandon Hersey, is helping members get to know elected leaders and policy makers to create lasting relationships and keep our politicians engaged in union issues. Chapter officers and union reps are organizing ride-alongs and bring-your-boss-to-work days in order to increase the understanding of what members do and what their needs are.
The Task Force will meet regularly this year to determine what kind of continued support our law enforcement and public safety members need. If you would like to join in on the conversation and continue this forward momentum, please reach out to Union Representative Suzie Saunders at .