America's worst charities

Our ranking based on cash paid to solicitors in the past decade

In detail#20: Police Protective Fund

Since the 1990s, David Dierks and Phil LeConte have launched three nonprofits to help police officers. Initially, all three organizations relied on outside solicitors for the majority of their revenue.

 

From 2001-2003 the organizations paid a combined $16.5 million to for-profit solicitors. In 2004, the in-house telemarketing centers staffed by charity employees became the major source of donations.

 

Today, Police Protective Fund is the only organization still in operation.

 

From 2001 to 2010, Police Protective Fund raised about $50 million, and reported spending about 85 percent of that on fundraising, including the cost of running its phone rooms in the Tampa Bay area, where callers talk to potential donors about police safety. The charity paid about $14.8 million of its total fundraising bill to private solicitors.

 

The charity pays about $1 million a year to a company owned by one of its employees to acquire donor lists and rent phone room equipment.

 

In 2003, Police Protective Fund changed its mission from providing aid to officers to promoting their well-being through education. The move makes it easier for the charity to count its telemarketing operation as an educational program. Callers asking for donations also remind people who pick up the phone to be cautious when driving near police officers. Those calls and related mailings represent the charity's biggest program expense.

 

From 2001 to 2010, the charity spent $260,000 total on direct cash assistance, including benefits provided to the families of police officers killed in the line of duty, according to tax filings.

 

Nonprofits run by Dierks and LeConte, including Police Protective, National Association of Veteran Police Officers, later renamed American Association of Police Officers, and Junior Police Academy, have been sued by regulators in at least six states, including Illinois, Ohio and Massachusetts. States accused charity employees of falsifying documents and overstating charitable deeds. Telemarketers went as far as pretending they were police officers to raise money, according to complaints filed by California and Illinois.

 

Dennis Haley, a Special Agent with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for the past 27 years, joined the advisory board of Police Protective around 2003. He had worked with LeConte’s father in Illinois, but said he hasn’t been involved in five or six years, since the organization was sued by the California attorney general.

 

"It bothers me that they have unscrupulous people that they hired and that my name is associated with it," he said. "It could be a really good program. I’m just sorry to hear that the bulk of the money isn’t going to where it’s supposed to go."

 

Dierks touted the organization's efforts to reduce traffic-related law enforcement deaths. "These deaths often involve ordinary citizens who don't follow proper driving habits or who don't observe the safe zone when encountering first responders," he wrote in an email. "The Police Protective Fund reaches nearly 1 million households each year with our message to 'Proceed with Caution.'"


In their own words: the Charity's mission

Officer safety through education...Develop and produce educational materials for the law enforcement and general community including youth programming. Promote a safer work environment for law enforcement through public awareness campaigns. Provide benefits to the law enforcement community through a line of duty death benefit and line of duty funeral planning services.

Unedited mission statements provided by the Colorado Secretary of State


Police Protective Fund

Known state disciplinary actions

Find out more about the actions in our database

States bringing actions Number of known actions Outcomes Total fines
California, Florida, Missouri 3 Fine/penalties $463,000

Fundraising and spending history

For years prior to 2008, cash raised from other sources might be included in the "cash raised by solicitors" column.

Year 990
form
Cash
raised by
solicitors
Solicitor
was paid
Cash to
the charity
Charity
salaries
Cash to
direct aid
% cash to
direct aid
Reported
totals to
programs
2010 pdf $65,666 $58,670 $6,996 $2,254,310 $3,500 5.33% $1,131,362
2009 pdf $317,327 $276,170 $41,157 $2,602,802 $3,000 0.95% $1,964,426
2008 pdf $810,055 $703,482 $106,573 $2,676,478 $41,000 5.06% $2,159,656
2007 pdf $6,881,915 $1,181,685 $5,700,230 $2,643,128 $50,000 0.73% $1,755,726
2006 pdf $5,938,902 $803,211 $5,135,691 $2,488,352 $37,000 0.62% $1,538,603
2005 pdf $4,918,256 $970,752 $3,947,504 $2,259,600 $31,000 0.63% $1,630,944
2004 pdf $4,441,733 $1,108,236 $3,333,497 $1,699,816 $4,000 0.09% $516,996
2003 pdf $4,383,012 $3,497,774 $885,238 $587,668 $23,440 0.53% $350,436
2002 pdf $4,221,306 $3,648,942 $572,364 $198,543 $48,030 1.14% $333,284
2001 pdf $2,880,162 $2,525,271 $354,891 $121,328 $20,573 0.71% $189,113
zTOTALS $34,858,334 $14,774,193 $20,084,141 $17,532,025 $261,543 0.8% $11,570,546

Who raised the money

Year Solicitor Cash raised Cash to solicitor Cash to charity % to charity Activity
2008 TCB Enterprises $1,725 $1,466 $259 15.00% phone solicitations
2008 Community Support (Milwaukee, WI) $422,048 $371,402 $50,646 12.00% phone solicitations
2008 Statewide Appeal $310,459 $263,890 $46,569 15.00% phone solicitations
2008 Jak Productions $73,969 $65,093 $8,876 12.00% phone solicitations
2008 Menacola Marketing $1,854 $1,631 $223 12.00% phone solicitations
2009 Community Support (Milwaukee, WI) $188,312 $165,715 $22,597 12.00% phone solicitations
2009 Statewide Appeal $102,579 $87,192 $15,387 15.00% phone solicitations
2009 Jak Productions $26,436 $23,263 $3,173 12.00% phone solicitations
2010 Community Support (Milwaukee, WI) $65,666 $58,670 $6,996 10.65% phone solicitations