Paradise Valley approves memorandum with new public safety foundation

The Paradise Valley Police Department is at 6433 E. Lincoln Dr. (photo by Melissa Fittro)

A new foundation is set to emerge with goals of benefiting the public safety needs of the Town of Paradise Valley.

The Paradise Valley Town Council approved on consent a memorandum of understanding with the Paradise Valley Public Safety Foundation, an independent 501(c)3 chartable organization, at its Thursday, Nov. 15 meeting at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive.

The council initially discussed the MOU as part of its Thursday, Nov. 1 study session.

The purpose of the organization is to support the town’s police and public safety needs by providing funding and financial support for materials, facilities, equipment and technologies, according to the foundation’s mission statement.

It will also provide financial assistance in crisis situations, support community programs and recognize “those who protect our communities.” In all, the foundation would provide supplemental financial support to the police department and other public safety entities.

While the foundation is associated with the town, it is not part of it. It would also utilize fundraising efforts and will rely on donations from town members to reach it’s goal.

“That’s what it’s all about,” Foundation President and Incorporator Michael Cummiskey said during a Nov. 1 study session. “It’s about raising money and then distributing that money in a really smart way.”

Peter Wingert.

Police Chief Wingert pointed out the town is a 170(c)1 organization, allowing it to accept charitable donations. As result, the town receives numerous donations, including to the police department.

“I get calls pretty frequently about ‘hey, can I give you X dollars to do something you like with it,’” Chief Wingert said. “When I got here, it was really concerning to me that we were taking money in that fashion. I don’t think there is anything integrity wise wrong with it. I think it just gives us a little more insulation if we could create a 501(c)3.”

Furthermore, Chief Wingert said keeping the same system or going with a foundation both have tax benefits but the foundation, to him, “feels a little bit cleaner” to have it outside of the town.

“Most cities and communities have this established in their communities,” Councilwoman Julie Pace, who helped work on the idea, said during the study session. “We’re just coming at it late but it’s the right time in our community.”

Chief Wingert wanted the council to know he was appreciative of all the council had done to support police and the creation of the foundation did not mean the town was unsupportive of the police.

The foundation and the MOU

The original officers will include Mr. Cummiskey as president, Kathryn Brown as treasurer and Ryan Woody as secretary. These three will be in place until the foundation appoints successors.

Ms. Pace said the three-person committee will likely come from the town’s Advisory Committee of Public Safety, ensuring potential committee members go through the town’s vetting process.

Julie Pace

The officers may be current or former members of ACOPS because they’ve passed through the town’s background check process, she said.

There are also two non-voting members of the committee, Mr. Cummiskey said, that will help with the growth of the foundation. For growth, Mr. Cummiskey sees the committee getting larger and potentially bringing in more subcommittees.

As part of the MOU, the police department will designate a liaison to work with the foundation’s board of directors to discuss specific community initiatives. The Town Council will then review those initiatives to “ensure they do not conflict with the best interests of the TPV.”

The town also entered into the MOU, according to the document, to make sure the foundation “conducts itself and operates in a matter consistent with the high standards of TPV.”

“TPV appreciates the commitment and expectation that each foundation board member, officer and committee member attains training, seeks support, or has experience in best practices for the governance of non-profits, model documents and other resources to assist in the development and administration of the foundation,” the MOU states.

In return, the foundation is responsible for exercising “independent judgment and utilize the creativity of its members” in crafting various approaches to community outreach.

The foundation will establish goals, objectives and critical paths that will be beacons in its interaction with the town, the police department and the local community.

It will also pursue the best practices in managing the growth and impact of the foundation and it will document those efforts for any potential reviews from the town.

The foundation also commits to operations and activities that are not conflicting with the best interests of the town as well as a goal to be in good standing with local, state and federal corporate, charitable and tax laws.

Finally, “the foundation shall, at all times, use care so as to avoid any public confusion about its role and responsibilities.”

As far as limitations, the foundation cannot use the town’s official seal without approval of the Town Council or town manager, but it can use the name and initials of the town as part of its organizational name.

Furthermore, the foundation can’t use the name, initials or seal for soliciting funds or lobbying. It also bears the responsibility for ensuring its actions don’t appear to be of the town. Foundation representatives can’t speak on behalf of the town.

Paul Dembow

Councilman Paul Dembow, during the Nov. 1 study session, asked if people could donate anonymously and require their donation be used for a specific purpose.

Town Attorney Andrew Miller said people could donate with strings attached and Vice Mayor Jerry Bien-Wilner clarified that the foundation would have the power to reject the gift if the resident wanted it to go toward something deemed inappropriate. Mr. Cummiskey said the foundation would accept anonymous donations.

Mr. Cummiskey ensured the council the foundation would work in collaboration with the town to determine what the public safety actually needs.

The foundation will move forward in writing its own bylaws and articles, which the town would not have any input on, Ms. Pace said.

Mr. Bien-Wilner said the Town Council and the police department’s relationship is separate with the council only getting involved for funding and setting law enforcement goals.

“The foundation, from what I saw, was set up in the same way,” Mr. Bien-Wilner said during the study session. “It’s just to help and help provide a channel for that funding.”

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