NAPO Washington Reports

DOJ Releases Report on Ambushes on Police Officers; NAPO Calls for Boycott of Tarantino; NAPO in the News; Majority of Congress Supports Zadroga 9/11 Health Act; House Judiciary Chairman Introduces Underfunded 9/11 Victims Compensation Bill; Senate Democrats Filibuster Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act; NAPO Meetings: DHS Call Regarding Release of Foreign-Born Prisoners; House Passes Reconciliation Package that Includes Repeal of Excise Tax; FAA to Require Drone Registration; House Republicans Elect Paul Ryan for Speaker; NAPO’s Sponsor/Cosponsor Spreadsheet

November 2, 2015


Releases Report on Ambushes on Police Officers

On October 27th, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), Department of Justice, released a report looking at ambushes and violence against police officers.  The study examined ambushes, defined as planned surprise attacks, of law enforcement officers between 1990 and 2013 and made the obvious conclusion that ambush attacks against officers remain a threat to officer safety.  According to the report, while the number of attacks per year has held steady at about 200 since a decline in the early 1990s, the proportion of fatal attacks on officers attributable to ambushes is on the rise.

The report investigated methods for preventing and effectively responding to ambushes of police officers as well as examined the environmental factors prevalent in ambush situations.  It also considered whether the number of officers present impacted the likelihood of ambush.  It found that 62% of ambushes were on officers working in a single-officer patrol vehicle.  The second highest was on two-person patrols at 24%.  However, the report states that it cannot conclude that the majority of officers were ambushed due to the fact that they patrolled in single-officer vehicles as a higher percentage of officers in general patrol in single-officer vehicles.

NAPO believes that officers in single-officer vehicles are targeted because they patrol alone and make for easier attacks, not just because there are more single-officer patrol units than multiple-officer patrols units.  Given the significantly high percentage of officers ambushed while working in single-officer patrol vehicles, it is incumbent on agencies to pursue as many two-person units as possible for the sake of officer safety.  NAPO continues to call on the COPS Office to prioritize its hiring grants for agencies that institute a policy of two person units for all patrol shifts and patrol assignments.  While this will not prevent all attacks, as the data in the report illustrates, it will deter many and thwart others that might still be attempted.

The full report can be found here: Ambushes of Police: Environment, Incident Dynamics, and the Aftermath of Surprise Attacks against Law Enforcement.

 

NAPO Calls for Boycott of Tarantino

Just days after NYPD Officer Randolph Holder was killed in the line of duty, film director Quentin Tarantino bluntly referred to police as “murderers” during an anti-police rally in New York City this past weekend.  As a high-profile figure, Tarantino’s language is utterly irresponsible, particularly at a time when the nation is seeing increasing and persistent calls for the killing of officers.  Anti-police rhetoric like Tarantino’s threatens the safety of police and citizens alike. 

The police he are calling murderers are the same officers who were present along the protest route to ensure the safety of protesters, who provide security when he is filming, and who put their lives on the line to protect our communities day in and day out. 

The National Association of Police Organizations staunchly supports the call of the New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and the Los Angeles Police Protective League to boycott Tarantino’s films.  Furthermore, we ask officers to stop working special assignments or off-duty jobs, such as providing security, traffic control or technical advice for any of Tarantino’s projects. We need to send a loud and clear message that such hateful rhetoric against police officers is unacceptable. 

 

NAPO in the News

On October 25th, NAPO President, Michael McHale, was quoted in a Washington Times article, “Police fear ‘YouTube effect’ affecting work, contributing to rise in violent crime”.  The article, written by Sarah Noble, who was a panelist at NAPO’s Seminar: Dealing with the Hostile Media, focused on how video recordings of police interactions with the public are affecting the rank-and-file and how police are looking to combat the increase in negative attitudes towards the profession.

President McHale explained: “We had such great public support right after 9/11, and today that support is gone”.

Officers from more than thirty agencies from around the country gathered at NAPO’s Seminar in San Antonio on October 22nd and 23rd in an effort to learn how to rebuild that support. The seminar focused on how agencies can interact differently with “hostile media,” highlighting strategies to showcase positive news and to better handle difficult situations, such as a fatal shooting by an officer.

Seminar participants also debated the extent to which the so-called “YouTube effect” has affected how officers do their jobs, with varying opinions.  However, whether or not they believed that the “YouTube effect” changed the way officers performed their duties, participants agreed that police are increasingly being viewed in a negative light and that is something that must be changed.

The full article is available at: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/oct/25/police-fear-youtube-effect-affecting-work-contribu/?page=1

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On October 17th, NAPO Executive Director, Bill Johnson, was quoted in a Star Tribune article, “Heightened scrutiny on police changing dynamics of recruiting, retaining officers”. Minnesota police and sheriff departments, particularly those in smaller suburbs, are seeing a sharp decline in applications and a rise in officer retirements.

Mr. Johnson explained that the trend of decreasing applications for police jobs is playing out nationally too, and retaining current officers has become more challenging.  “The unfair criticism of police and, from our point of view, the painting of a very broad brush that all officers and police departments are racist or brutal based on [a handful] of cases … and these targeted murders of police officers, are making it difficult to attract and retain qualified officers,” Mr. Johnson said. “There’s a growing sense among police that it’s not worth it anymore.”

The full article is available at: http://www.startribune.com/heightened-scrutiny-on-police-changing-dynamics-of-recruiting-retaining-officers/333669551/ 

NAPO will continue to ensure our members’ voices are heard loud and clear on the Hill, with the Administration, and in the media.  If you have any questions about the publications cited above, please contact Bill Johnson at:  bjohnson@napo.org. 

 

Majority of Congress Supports Zadroga 9/11 Health Act

As of October 30th, 236 members of the House of Representatives and 60 members of the Senate have signed on as cosponsors of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act.  With a bipartisan majority of both Houses of Congress backing the bill, now is the time for Congress to pass this vital legislation.

The Zadroga bill’s two critical programs providing medical treatment and compensation for 9/11 heroes – the World Trade Center Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) – expired September 30th. Unless Congress acts to permanently reauthorize these programs, the Health Program will cease to operate next year and the VCF will have to cut awards by as much as 60 percent and will stop taking claims next year.  For those who are expected to come down with a 9/11 cancer or disease, this means they will have no alternative or recourse.

A new report has come out showing the urgency in which Congress needs to pass this bill and make these programs permanent.  A study of the medical history of almost 40,000 New York City Police Department (NYPD) officers who were active duty on 9/11 shows a 50 percent increase in cancer rates.  Dr. Eli Kleinman, the NYPD’s chief surgeon, and his team, together with scientists at Columbia University Medical Center and Weill Cornell Medical College, studied the medical history of those officers, tallying cancer diagnoses from 1995 to 2014.  Although there was an increase in all types of cancer, four specific types of cancer increased at alarming rates. The frequency of brain and kidney cancers more than tripled; thyroid cancer rates were more than twice as high, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma appeared 68 percent more often.

To date, 668 NYPD officers have been diagnosed with cancer after their work on 9/11 and the days and weeks after.

These heroes put their lives on the line to serve us, and must be afforded every resource available as they cope with the cancer and chronic health conditions caused by exposure to toxic chemicals at the World Trade Center.  NAPO continues to work with members of Congress and fellow stakeholders to pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act.  Please join our efforts by contacting your Congressional Representative and Senators and urge them to support passage of this important legislation.  

Source:  Susan Edelman and Bob Fredericks, “Cancer Rates for Ground Zero Cops 50% Higher the pre-9/11”, NYPost.com, October 9, 2015. http://nypost.com/2015/10/09/cancer-rate-for-ground-zero-cops-50-percent-higher-than-pre-911/

 
 

House Judiciary Chairman Introduces Underfunded 9/11 Victims Compensation Bill

On October 29th, House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced his own version of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act that deals solely with the Victims Compensation Fund.  The bill, the September 11th VCF Reauthorization and US Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Compensation Act, only reauthorizes the VCF for five years and it does nothing about the almost 12,000 individuals currently in the VCF with determinations who have been waiting for years and are facing cuts of up to 60 percent in their awards.

NAPO met with the Chairman’s staff on the 29th about the legislation and the purpose behind the Chairman introducing it at this point in the year when the Zadroga 9/11 Health Act has overwhelming bipartisan support.  No stakeholder organization or the main sponsors of the Zadroga Act were consulted about the legislation as it was developed and the bill was introduced with no notice.  Chairman Goodlatte’s concerns with the Zadroga Act are that he does not want to make the VCF permanent nor does he want to use taxpayer money to fund the programs. 

NAPO is disappointed that Chairman Goodlatte and the House Judiciary Committee decided to introduce this deeply flawed legislation instead of taking up the bipartisan Zadroga Act.  While we appreciate the interest of the Chairman to ensure that victims of terrorist attacks receive some compensation, the legislation introduced falls well short of what is needed to help make whole those who sacrificed their health and well-being in responding to the 9/11 attacks.

NAPO will continue to work with the Judiciary Committee, stakeholders and the sponsors of the Zadroga Act to ensure that Congress passes a bill that fully and permanently reauthorizes the VCF and the World Trade Center Health Program. 
 

Senate Democrats Filibuster Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act

On October 20th, Senate Democrats filibustered the Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act (S. 2146), introduced by Senators David Vitter (R-LA), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), not allowing the Senate to debate and vote on the bill.  NAPO supports this legislation as it takes crucial steps to eliminating sanctuary jurisdictions, which pose real threats to the American people, and increases penalties for criminals who re-enter the United States illegally, providing federal, state and local law enforcement vital tools to help keep our communities safe.

NAPO understands that cooperation among federal, state, and local law enforcement officers is essential in keeping criminal illegal immigrants off of the streets.  The nation’s immigration enforcement system relies on local law enforcement complying with immigration detainers—requests from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for local law enforcement to hold an illegal immigrant temporarily, to give federal law enforcement an opportunity to take the individual into custody.

Unfortunately, several courts have ruled that local law enforcement officers may be sued for violating the Fourth Amendment if they comply with an immigration detainer, even if the detainer was lawfully issued and the detention would have been legal if carried out by DHS. This means that dangerous criminals cannot be held and must be released. The Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act solves this problem by explicitly stating that local law enforcement officers have legal authority to comply with immigration detainers. The bill also protects civil liberties, ensuring that someone who has had their constitutional rights violated may sue.

Furthermore, the legislation recognizes the need for cooperation with all members of our communities and preserves flexibility for law enforcement, so that victims of crime and witnesses to crime who are in the U.S. illegally may come forward and cooperate with police.

We look forward to continue working with Senators Vitter, Toomey, Grassley, Johnson and Cruz to get this important legislation enacted into law.  If you have any questions about this bill, please contact Andy Edmiston at aedmiston@napo.org.

 

NAPO Meetings: DHS Call Regarding Release of Foreign-Born Prisoners

NAPO participated in a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office for State and Local Law Enforcement conference call regarding the Bureau of Prisons transfer of foreign-born individuals to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).  This prisoner release is being conducted pursuant to the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s 2014 guidelines which grant sentencing reductions for certain drug trafficking offenses. 

The purpose of the conference call, led by ICE ERO Assistant Director Matthew Albence, was to provide law enforcement agencies and associations the opportunity to learn more about the prisoner release, the transfer of custody to ICE, and potential deportation procedures involving these individuals.

In addition to the transfer of foreign-born individuals into ICE ERO custody, the Sentencing Commission’s 2014 guidelines has led to the release of 6,000 federal prisoners and could eventually lead to the release of up to 46,000 prisoners back into our communities.

If you would like more information about the information discussed in this call, please contact Bill Johnson at bjohnson@napo.org.

 

House Passes Reconciliation Package that Includes Repeal of Excise Tax

On October 23, 2015, the House of Representatives passed a reconciliation package that included the repeal of the Excise Tax, or “Cadillac Tax”, as well as other measures of the Affordable Care Act and blocked federal funding for Planned Parenthood.  A reconciliation package is an expedited budget process that allows a measure to pass the Senate with only a simple majority – 51 votes – rather than the usual 60-vote requirement.  Although the repeal of the Excise Tax has broad bipartisan support, the other measures within the package were far more controversial and thus drew a Presidential veto of the package. 

It is vital that Congress repeal the Excise Tax and time is of the essence.  The American Health Policy Institute came out with a new report that found that almost 90% of large employers, including state, county and city governments, are already taking steps to no longer offer health plans that would trigger the tax. Many of NAPO’s member groups in Massachusetts, Arizona, Wisconsin, Florida, New York and elsewhere across the country are already hearing from their employers that they are looking to redesign their health benefit plans in order that they will not be hit with the tax come 2018.

Additionally, the American Health Policy Institute report found that:

  • More than 30% of large employers said that they would have at least one plan impacted by the tax and almost half of employers who would not have plan impacted by 2018 said they would have a plan impacted by 2023.
  • About 19% of employers were already curtailing or eliminating employee contributions to flexible spending accounts, and 13% were doing the same to health savings accounts.
  • 71% of employers planning to reduce their plan values said they most likely would not provide a corresponding wage increase.

The Excise Tax is not just a tax on health plans; it is a loss of earned wages and benefits.  NAPO will continue to work with members of Congress to pass HR 2050 / S 2045, the Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act of 2015, as well as press the IRS to amend IRS Code to ensure that all health plans that include public safety officers as participants are excluded from the affects of the excise tax. Public safety officers, who put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe, should not lose their hard earned benefits.

Sources: Melissa Attias, “House Sends Reconciliation Package to Senate”, CQ.com, October 23, 2015. 
http://www.cq.com/doc/news-4777154?3&srcpage=news&srcsec=ina

Tevi D. Troy and D. Mark Wilson, “ACA Excise Tax: Cutting Family Budgets, Not Healthcare Budgets”, American Health PolicyInstitute. http://www.americanhealthpolicy.org/Content/documents/resources/AHPI_Excise_Tax_October_2015.pdf 

FAA to Require Drone Registration

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced on October 19th that it will require registration of drones, even those used for recreation, with few exceptions.  This announcement was spurred on by the increase in incidents that pose safety risks, including the sighting of drones near aircraft.  Currently, only commercial operators have to register their drones.

The FAA and the Department of Transportation are putting together a 25 to 30 member task force, including hobbyists, government and industry officials, to work out the details of the new rules.  The FAA wants to get the new registration rules in place before the holiday season as the Consumer Electronics Association forecasts that hundreds of thousands of drones will be sold around Christmas.  The goal is that the requirement to register drones will put pressure on operators to fly more responsibly or face consequences.

Toys and small drones that can only fly up to a few hundred feet will most likely be except from the new rules.

Source: “Feds to require drone registration after close calls”, FoxNews.com, October 19, 2015.  http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/10/19/faa-to-announce-drone-regulations/

 

House Republicans Elect Paul Ryan for Speaker

On October 29th, one day before out-going Speaker of the House John Boehner retires, Republicans overwhelmingly elected Paul Ryan (R-WI) to succeed him as Speaker. 

Ryan became the front-runner for the position after Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) abruptly pulled out of the race at the beginning of October even though he continually stated he had no interest in the position.  Ryan was the only candidate who could garner the majority of support among the different factions of the Republican Party. 

NAPO continues to engage Congressional leadership to ensure our priorities remain at the top of the Congressional agenda. We will keep our members updated on all relevant issues.

 

NAPO’s Sponsor/Cosponsor Spreadsheet 

NAPO’s updated “Sponsor/Cosponsor” spreadsheet is available at the following link: http://www.napo.org/washington-report/sponsor-cosponsor-spreadsheet/. The spreadsheet accompanies the latest “Legislative Positions” document, which is available at the following link: http://www.napo.org/washington-report/legislative-priorities/

The “Sponsor/Cosponsor” spreadsheet is a useful tool to check if your members of Congress have supported pieces of legislation that will impact our members. NAPO will update this spreadsheet regularly, and continue to ensure our voice is heard on Capitol Hill.

 

If you have any questions about any of the legislation that NAPO is currently working, please contact Andrea Edmiston at: aedmiston@napo.org