JMHCA Update, Scholarship Offer for Law Enforcement Families, Appropriators Face Time Crunch and Cell Phone Theft ConcernsJanuary 6, 2014
NAPO CONTINUES TO MAKE MENTAL HEALTH LEGISLATION A TOP PRIORITY
The Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act (JMHCA) provides for the improvement of access to mental health services for individuals who come into contact with the criminal justice system, and provides law enforcement officers with the tools they need to identify and respond to mental health issues in the community.
NAPO is a strong supporter of the JMHCA, which will enable better collaboration between mental health and criminal justice systems. NAPO has advocated for the passage of the JMHCA during meetings with Congressional staffers, participated in working group meetings with fellow stakeholders, contacted both Senate and House Judiciary Committee members to request support of the bill, and signed the JMHCA sign-on letter. These efforts led to the legislation being passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee with strong bipartisan support.
Since the bill was passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Mike Lee (R-UT) have placed holds on the JMHCA. NAPO is working closely with other stakeholders to urge the aforementioned Senators to remove the holds so that the bill can proceed through the legislative process. NAPO has also met with Senator Franken and his senior staff to strategize ways forward to pass the bill. Additionally, NAPO has met with staffers for key Republican Senators to request they co-sponsor the bill. NAPO plans to continue to aggressively advocate for the passage of this important piece of legislation.
The following article provides additional information on the JMHCA holds. If you have any questions about this legislation, please contact Melissa Nee at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dec. 20, 2013 – 6:30 p.m.
Senators Delay Action on Bill to Fund Mental-Health Programs in
Criminal Justice System
By Melissa Attias, CQ Roll Call
Two Republican senators are holding up the passage of a bipartisan bill addressing mental-health issues in the criminal justice system that won committee approval in June, according to letters released by a group that supports the measure and a Senate Democratic source.
The legislation (S 162) was introduced by Minnesota Democrat Al Franken and is a contender to be “hotlined,” or approved for Senate action by unanimous consent. The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the legislation by voice vote June 20.
But Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn, who cited federalism and funding concerns with the bill, and Utah Republican Mike Lee have kept it from moving forward for months, according to the Association of the United States Navy. Legislative Director Anthony Wallis sent both senators letters on Sept. 30 urging them to lift their holds on the measure after he said the group was approached by other veterans’ organizations on the issue.
Wallis said through a spokeswoman that his understanding is that the holds have not been lifted, which a Senate Democratic source confirmed.
Brian Phillips, a spokesman for Lee, said the senator’s office has asked for additional information about the bill. That may not mean that Lee opposes the measure. “Senator Lee’s staff is continuing to work with Senator Franken’s staff,” Phillips said in an email.
Coburn, on the other hand, sent a letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in July that outlined some of his concerns. It also asked McConnell to consult with him before the Senate enters into any unanimous consent agreements or time limitations on the measure.
In the July 18 letter, Coburn said he supports the goals of the measure and thinks “incarcerated offenders suffering from mental illness should have access to treatment.” But he also said he thinks state and local governments have the responsibility for that issue when it comes to inmates in state and local jails.
“Furthermore, while I do not believe this issue is the responsibility of the federal government; if Congress does act, we can and must do so in a fiscally responsible manner,” Coburn wrote.
The three-page letter includes additional details about his concerns, including a lack of offsets and a “one-size-fits-all approach to treating mentally ill state and local inmates.” It concludes by recommending that lawmakers evaluate current programs, identify needs and prioritize them by taking money from wasteful and duplicative programs if they choose to act.
Still, the Democratic source noted that Coburn co-sponsored an amendment to the Senate gun package (S 649) that incorporated Franken’s bill. He also allowed the 2008 reauthorization (PL 110-416) of the law that Franken’s bill would alter to pass by unanimous consent, the source said, and has expressed support for the law in the past.
Franken’s measure would reauthorize and expand a 2004 law (PL 108-414) that set up a grant program to support mental-health courts and other collaborative programs between the criminal-justice and mental-health systems. It would extend funding for the program through fiscal 2019 and make a number of updates, such as new provisions on veterans’ treatment court programs for those with mental illness or substance abuse disorders.
Franken’s bill has 30 co-sponsors, including 13 Republicans. Rep. Rich Nugent, R-Fla., has introduced the House version (HR 401), which has 34 co-sponsors, 19 of them Democrats and 15 Republicans.
Scholarship for Law Enforcement Officers’ Families
The New York City Detectives’ Endowment Association has provided NAPO with information on New York based BrickHouse Security’s first annual $10,000 scholarship program for police officers wounded in the line of duty. Additional information about the scholarship can be found at the following link:
Scholarship applications will be accepted twice annually. Applications for this cycle will be accepted through April 1, 2014, at which point a winner will be chosen and announced. Applications for the next cycle will be accepted through September 1, 2014.
We encourage you to share this information with your members. If you have any questions about the scholarship, please contact Amy Doherty at: email@example.com.
Appropriators Face Time Crunch
Top appropriators in the House and Senate are expected to meet early this week to work through remaining policy and funding disputes within the omnibus spending bill and try to seal an agreement they can then sell to their caucuses.
House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY), his Senate counterpart Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), and their ranking members Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-NY) and Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-AL), are trying to push the package through both chambers before January 15th, when the current stopgap spending measure (PL 113-46) expires and government agencies will require a new infusion of cash to avert another shutdown. The group is trying to avoid the need for a short-term CR that could sap momentum away the bigger package.
NAPO will keep our members updated on the status of this bill. If you have any questions about the spending bill, please contact Melissa Nee at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bettelheim, Adriel. "CQ.com." CQ.com. Congressional Quarterly, 6 Jan. 2014. Web. 06 Jan. 2014.
Senator Klobuchar Shares Letter Regarding Cell Phone Theft Concerns
Senator Klobuchar’s (D-MN) senior staff shared the letter below with NAPO. Senator Klobuchar’s letter highlights the need for additional action to protect consumers against cell phone theft. The Senator’s letter is a reaction to information provided from local law enforcement about cell phone theft being a major cause of concern. Senator Klobuchar is dedicated to finding a way to curb cell phone theft and addressing this public safety issue.
NAPO maintains a strong relationship with Senator Klobuchar’s office. If you have any questions about this issue, please contact Melissa Nee at: email@example.com.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S MESSAGE
YOUR NOMINATIONS MAKE THE DIFFERENCE FOR TOP COPS®
This year will mark the 21st year NAPO has produced the TOP COPS Awards®. The ceremony will take place on Monday, May 12, 2014, again coinciding with Police Week. Over the next few months I will be asking for your assistance in three major areas in which you, our members, can help to ensure the success of TOP COPS®: nominations, sponsorships, and show attendance. Today, I want to ask for your assistance with the first and most fundamental component, nominations.
TOP COPS® is unique in that it is a peer nominated award. However, one of the greatest struggles we have faced in the past is getting the nomination form out to officers nationwide. I am asking you to assist us in making this happen. It is our goal this year to see all 50 states represented with a nominee. While we appreciate and welcome nominations from the executive level, we would really like to see the nomination form circulated among your members.
The nomination form can be downloaded from the NAPO website, www.napo.org, and if need be, we would also be happy to email you the form. Just send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your request. Please feel free to duplicate and post it anywhere you feel it is appropriate. We would especially like to see forms posted in association offices and departments with the hope that your members will feel inclined to nominate the great cases/officers they have come into contact with over the past year. I would also like to ask you to consider including the nomination form, on your website, or as a hand out at your next meeting.
If you have other thoughts or ideas as to how to get the word out about this most worthwhile event, please let us know. With your help and partnership, I know that TOP COPS® will be a tremendous success!
Please monitor NAPO’s website www.napo.org, and Facebook page: National Association of Police Organizations, and follow us on Twitter at NAPOpolice for breaking news and updates.