America Supports You: LAPD Stands Behind Mobilized Employees
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 12, 2006 When Sgt. Brandon Valdez, a Marine Corps Reservist, was wounded by a roadside bomb during convoy duty in Ramadi, Iraq, in November 2004, his civilian employer, the Los Angeles Police Department, supported him to the fullest.
Los Angeles Police Department Chief of Police William J. Bratton receives the 2005 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award presented by Secretary of the Army Francis J. Harvey and ESGR National Chairman David Janes during the annual award ceremony Oct. 15 in Washington, D.C. Photo By Spc. Christian Fernandez, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
In addition to continuing to make up the difference between his military and police pay and providing him his full employee benefits, the LAPD had a full-time military liaison officer available to help Valdez through his recovery.
In an arrangement unique among police departments, Officer Dennis J. DeNoi, a retired Marine master sergeant, was on duty as the department's full-time liaison to support Valdez and 500 of his LAPD colleagues who also serve in the reserve components.
The LAPD leadership created the position in June 2003, when about 150 police officers were serving on active military duty. That was down from a high of about 200 immediately after Sept. 11, 2001, and the current average is about 60 mobilized members at any given time, DeNoi said.
With such a large percentage of the force deployed for military duty, DeNoi said he seems himself as "the caretaker of the Guard and Reserves."
"My job is basically to reduce the burdens normally associated with active military duty," he said, noting that the LAPD's citizen-servicemembers hold down "two extremely demanding careers simultaneously."
DeNoi reaches out to the department's members through regular newsletter articles and provides a one-stop resource to help them and their families during mobilizations.
He prides himself on putting a name and face to the bureaucracy so people he serves know exactly who to turn to when they have questions or need help. And when he can't resolve a problem himself, he goes to leaders of the department, who support his efforts to get their help.
"I'm kind of like the sergeant major to the chief of police," DeNoi said, looking out for the welfare of police officers who serve in the military and helping resolve any issues that crop up.
"I have the greatest job in the world, and I get instant gratification because I can step in and help solve any of these employees' problems at any time," DeNoi said. He attributes his success to the city of Los Angeles and the LAPD leadership, from the chief on down, for giving him wide latitude to do his job.
"They authorized (this effort) and support it fully," DeNoi said. "The reason is I can do this job is because we have solid support from the city of Los Angeles and the full backing from the chain of command. They truly support our military members."
The LAPD has a long history of supporting its employees who serve in the Guard and Reserve, DeNoi said.
The department provides full pay for the mobilized members for the first 30 days of their deployments, then offers a pay differential and full employee benefits for the duration of the mobilization, he said.
While called up for active duty, LAPD employees receive service credit and accumulate annual leave and tenure, as well as all promotions and annual pay step advancements, DeNoi said.
But the department's support goes beyond career protections, he said. During the recent holiday season, the LAPD sent videotaped messages from Bratton and other tokens of support to families of its deployed police officers. Earlier in the year, the department hosted a summer picnic for the families of its police officers in the Guard or Reserve.
Valdez was so impressed by the support he received, throughout his military mobilization and recovery process, that he nominated the department for the highest-level employer support recognition the Defense Department offers, the Secretary of Defense Employee Support Freedom Award.
The LAPD was among 15 employers awarded last October with the 2005 Secretary of Defense Employee Support Freedom Award. The award, the highest in a range of employer awards sponsored by the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, recognizes employers who go above and beyond in supporting their citizen-servicemembers. Reservists and guardsmen who want to nominate their employers for the 2006 awards can do so online at the Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve site, www.esgr.org. "As the men and women of the LAPD protect and serve on the streets of Los Angeles, it is important for us to remember those department employees far from home, fighting for liberty and freedom," said Chief William J. Bratton.
"We must never forget the sacrifices of the families they have left behind," he said, noting that the department "will steadfastly continue its support of the Guard and Reserve."