DPS director Roger Vanderpool diverted money that lawmakers had intended to go toward hiring more cops and used it instead to give midlevel and more experienced officers pay raises. Sen. John Huppenthal said the DPS piggy "stole" the money. Next time you don't think cops could commit perjury in court remember this.
DPS gave raises instead of hiring By Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services January 14, 2006
The head of the Arizona Department of Public Safety gave raises to 600 of his officers above and beyond what the Legislature had authorized a move that one veteran lawmaker has equated with theft.
Budget documents obtained by Capitol Media Services show that Roger Vanderpool spent more than $1.2 million to boost the pay of midlevel and more experienced officers by up to $1,816 a year. That is on top of the $4.2 million the Legislature specifically gave him for officer pay hikes increases of more than 5 percent, much higher than what lawmakers gave most other state workers.
Joint Legislative Budget Committee director Richard Stavneak said Vanderpool diverted money that lawmakers had intended to go toward hiring more officers. Sen. John Huppenthal, R-Chandler, said that Vanderpool had, in effect, stolen money that was meant for another purpose.
A Vanderpool aide said the extra cash came from "vacancy savings, meaning money available from unfilled positions. DPS spokesman Rick Knight said an additional 26 officers were, in fact, hired.
But Knight acknowledged that, at the same time, the agency lost an identical number of officers through attri- tion, meaning people who left for other jobs or retired. So the net result was that DPS staffing remained unchanged despite the legislative directive and the extra cash for hiring.
Knight defended Vanderpools decision to use those funds for raises.
"It was for the safety of our citizens and the safety of our officers, he said.
Knight said the turnover in the agency of officers leaving for higher-paying jobs in local police departments had become critical. And he said the salary structure has left DPS unable to lure veteran officers from other agencies.
"We are at a crisis point with the retention recruitment of our officers, Knight said.
Huppenthal, who serves as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was miffed.
He said when lawmakers give money to an agency for a specific purpose, they expect it to be spent that way. Huppenthal said Vanderpools diversion amounted to "theft.
Knight said Vanderpool was "saddened by Huppenthals statement. " Theft is a pretty harsh thing to say, Knight said.
He said Vanderpool is "being creative in terms of managing the agency.
Huppenthal conceded that what Vanderpool did was, technically, not illegal. Thats because the Legislature gave Vanderpool a "lump sum budget.
While they increased DPS funding to hire more officers, there is nothing in budget documents that mandated Vanderpool use the money that way.
Instead, he was legally free to use it on any salary and personnel expenses.
"The lawmakers put the director in a position to manage the agency, Knight said, which means lawmakers trust Vanderpool to use his best judgment.
But the situation is unlikely to repeat itself.
A draft legislative budget would give DPS $4.8 million this coming fiscal year to hire an additional 46 highway patrol personnel.
But the budget is being crafted with a specific requirement that vacant positions be filled "consistent with legislative intent, complete with a requirement for approval from a legislative committee before any funds can be shifted.
Knight said Vanderpools decision has paid off, with an increase in the number of "lateral transfers of experienced officers from other agencies to DPS.
That is because those extra dollars were earmarked not for new hires but for more experienced officers.
Even with that, Knight said there has been a "slight boost in the number of DPS rookies.
DPS personnel Look ahead: Proposed new highway patrol positions for fiscal 2006-07:
Sixteen motorcycle officers for Maricopa County
Seven patrol officers for Pima County
Seven patrol officers for Pinal County
Five canine officers statewide
Two transport officers in Maricopa County
Two sergeants for Pima, Pinal, Maricopa counties
Five support positions statewide
Source: Joint Legislative Budget Committee staff
Contact Howard Fischer by telephone at () -.