Friday, February 06, 2009

Thank you, David Spade

Everyone is well aware of the financial difficulties being played out across the country. The city I live and work in has the highest budget deficit in the nation (22% of the city's general fund). The general fund is used to pay for all city services including police and fire departments.

To make up for this shortfall, all kinds of city services have been reduced or eliminated and many city employees will likely lose their jobs. Luckily for me, police and fire department personnel will not be reduced (for the time being).

During this time of tight budgets, the police department has been forced to put off or abandon certain programs. One of these was the patrol officer rifle program. The idea was to have at least one officer on each squad carry a rifle. The fight against crime has escalated and we have seen an increase in the use of high powered rifles and automatic weapons by criminals. Our handguns and sparse shotguns are no match for the arsenal being used by the bad guys.

Just when we thought the rifle program would be cut out of the budget, former Phoenix resident David Spade stepped in and donated $100,000 to the department. His gift provided and extra 50 AR-15 rifles (along with equipment, ammunition, and training) to the police force.

I was the rifle carrier on my previous squad but had to give it up when I moved to my new training squad. I was disappointed when I learned there was no rifles available for the training squad.

Now, however, I have David Spade to thank for my newest piece of equipment:

My brand new Bushmaster AR-15 rifle.

This isn't the first time David has helped out with the police department. On September 18, 2007 my friend and fellow officer Nick Erfle was shot and killed while on duty. I see Nick's portrait on the memorial wall at my station before every briefing. He left behind a wife and two young sons. David donated $25,000 to Officer Erfle's family when he heard about the killing. I've always thought David was a great comedian and actor but I now believe he's an even greater human being.