NAPO Washington Reports

NAPO’s Executive Director Meets with Acting Deputy AG Sally Quillian Yates; NAPO in the News; Suspect Arrested in Ferguson Shooting; NAPO’s Legislative Priorities Booklet; NAPO Meetings on Capitol Hill: James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act; Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act; Support Byrne-JAG & MIOTCRA Funding; NAPO Supports the RAISE Act and the SALTS Act; NAPO Attends Blue Mass Steering Committee Meeting; Law Enforcement Letter Regarding ALPR Technology; ATF Drops Proposed Ammo Ban

March 17, 2015

NAPO’s Executive Director Meets with Acting Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates

On March 12, 2015, NAPO’s Executive Director, Bill Johnson, met with Acting Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates at the Department of Justice (DOJ).

During the meeting, Ms. Yates indicated she wanted “to press the reset button” in the DOJ’s relations with state, county, and local law enforcement.  NAPO was the only rank and file group there for state and local law enforcement.  NAPO thanked her for the meeting, but was careful to point out that not all law enforcement groups agreed with the recent actions and statements by DOJ and its leaders. 

Also, NAPO expressed concern that the COPS Office at DOJ seems to have departed from the original intent of the law which set up that office.   NAPO was the single strongest supporter of the COPS program when it started in the 1990s, and its success was predicated upon the recognition that local law enforcement and chiefs and mayors knew best what was needed in their own particular communities.  COPS hiring funding thus went directly to communities to hire new officers, and was not funneled through states or governors.  Now, the COPS Office has clearly departed from that successful model, and proposes to impose “one size fits all” policies on departments across the country.  This is directly contrary to the intent and spirit of the law, and risks doing away with the single biggest key to the COPS Program success: local control to fix local problems.  NAPO pointed out that the policies the COPS Office is contemplating would fit better within the DOJ’s Civil Rights office, and that the COPS program should stick to helping hire local police officers. 

NAPO also urged that the Attorney General make strong and constant statements of support for state and local officers. 

NAPO will continue to engage the Administration and members of Congress to ensure our voices are heard loud and clear as new proposals are developed that will impact our members.  If you have any questions about this meeting, please contact Bill Johnson at:  bjohnson@napo.org.

 

NAPO in the News

NAPO’s Executive Director, Bill Johnson, was quoted in a St. Louis Dispatch article regarding Congressional debates related to police practices. 

When asked about body cameras, Johnson noted:  “Body cameras can be useful tools, number one [but] they are not going to catch everything that goes on or answer every question.”

The full article is available at the following link:  http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/gateway-to-dc/ferguson-related-bills-on-way-in-congress-but-prognosis-is/article_886cf765-0c1e-566d-a4ae-011ec17f28fd.html.

NAPO continues to stress the importance of including state and local law enforcement agencies, as well as law enforcement leadership, in discussions regarding body camera requirements.  We also continue to note that body camera requirement decisions should be made on an agency-by-agency basis. 

NAPO is closely monitoring new policies and legislation regarding officer-worn body cameras, and will provide our members with updates as they become available.

If you have any questions about this interview or our stance on body camera policies, please contact Bill Johnson at:  bjohnson@napo.org.

 

Suspect Arrested in Shooting of Two Officers in Ferguson

“Authorities have charged a 20-year-old man from the St. Louis area with shooting two officers during a protest last week in Ferguson, and they said the alleged gunman had attended the protest earlier in the night” (Fahrenthold & Lowery).

“Jeffrey Williams was arrested late Saturday and charged with two counts of first-degree assault. The top prosecutor in St. Louis County, Robert McCulloch, said police relied on tips from the public to identify Williams. He said Williams had admitted firing the shots that struck the officers as they stood guard outside Ferguson police headquarters” (Fahrenthold & Lowery).

NAPO is concerned that political leaders have contributed to an environment of extreme hostility in Ferguson and communities across the nation.  Our nation’s leaders continue to crucify and demonize law enforcement officers as these officers work tirelessly and selflessly to protect us.  We need the support of our political leaders as our officers continue to work to build trust in the communities they serve and protect.

NAPO is not going to rest until officers receive the support and protection that they need to do their jobs and to stay safe.  We urge our officers to continue to be vigilant and stay safe during this time. 

Source:

Lowery, Wesley, and David Fahrenthold. "Police: Suspect Arrested in Shooting of Two Officers in Ferguson." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 16 Mar. 2015. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.

 

NAPO’s Legislative Priorities Booklet for the 114th Congress

NAPO continues to work diligently to ensure that our top legislative priorities stay at the forefront of the Congressional agenda.  The following link includes our updated Legislative Priorities booklet for the 114th Congress:  http://www.napo.org/files/8614/2652/0101/Legislative_Priorities_Booklet_-_114th_Congress_-_Website.pdf.

Please feel free to use this booklet as a resource when you talk to your members of Congress.

If you have any questions about NAPO’s legislative priorities for the 114th Congress, please contact Melissa Nee at:  mnee@napo.org

 

NAPO Meetings on Capitol Hill: James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act

 

On March 13, 2015, NAPO joined fellow stakeholders in meetings with senior staffers for Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Rob Portman (R-OH) to discuss the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act.  NAPO used the meetings to stress our strong support for the Zadroga bill, and requested assistance in moving the legislation through Congress as expeditiously as possible. 

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 – are set to expire in October 2015 and October 2016 respectively. This legislation would continue these programs for 25 more years, through 2041. 

9/11 responders and survivors are still battling serious health crises resulting from exposure to the toxins at Ground Zero. More than 30,000 9/11 responders and survivors have an illness or injury caused by the attacks or their aftermath, and over two-thirds of those have more than one illness. Many are disabled and can no longer work. They are suffering from a host of chronic diseases: asthma, obstructive pulmonary disease and gastroesophageal reflux disease, and many more.

Medical research has identified more than 60 types of cancer caused by 9/11 toxins. More than 2,900 people have been diagnosed with cancers caused or made worse by the aftermath of the attacks - more than 800 New York Fire Department members and more than 550 New York Police Department personnel are struggling with serious 9/11-related illnesses, not including the more than 70 firefighters and 60 NYPD officers who have died from their 9/11-related illnesses. 

Responders came from all over the country to aid in the response to the attacks. And some area residents, workers, and survivors have since moved and are currently receiving care in cities and states across the country. Participants enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Program for treatment currently reside in all 50 states and in 429 of the 435 Congressional districts in the country. 

These heroes put their lives on the line to serve us, and must be afforded every resource available as they cope with chronic health conditions caused by exposure to toxic chemicals at the World Trade Center.

This legislation will also honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our nation.  James Zadroga, a New York City Police Department Detective and member of NAPO, died of respiratory disease caused by his exposure to toxic chemicals at Ground Zero.  It is our obligation and duty to remember these heroes and ensure that survivors who risked their lives to protect us continue to receive the treatment and compensation that they deserve. 

The staffers were very receptive to our proposal.  NAPO looks forward to working with members of Congress and key law enforcement stakeholders to reintroduce and pass this important legislation during the 114th Congress. 

If you have any questions about this bill, please contact Melissa Nee at:  mnee@napo.org.

Source:

"Lawmakers Introduce Critical Reauthorization of James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act." Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. N.p., 17 Sept. 2014. Web. 19 Sept. 2014.

 

Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act 

NAPO continues to work closely with Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and his staff to pass the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act.  This legislation would boost support for and protection of victims of human trafficking by increasing law enforcement resources, enhancing victims’ services, and increasing penalties in an effort to combat child sex trafficking, child pornography, sexual exploitation, and human trafficking.   

The bill has been stalled after Democrats accused Republicans of adding anti-abortion language into the bill.  However, before last week, this bill had strong bipartisan support, and passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee without opposition. 

Over the weekend, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that the confirmation of Loretta Lynch as attorney general may hinge on whether Congress works out its gridlock over the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act.

NAPO has worked closely with Senator Cornyn and fellow stakeholders to garner support for this legislation.  Last week, NAPO participated in a conference call hosted by Senator Cornyn, who provided an update on the bill’s status and assurance of his commitment to pass this important legislation.

We are committed to continuing to work with Senator Cornyn and his staff to ensure this legislation is passed.  We will keep our members updated on the status of this bill and the confirmation process for the next attorney general.

If you have any questions about the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act or the attorney general nomination, please contact Melissa Nee at:  mnee@napo.org

Source:

Ye Hee Lee, Michelle. "McConnell: No Loretta Lynch Confirmation until Vote on Human Trafficking Bill." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 15 Mar. 2015. Web. 15 Mar. 2015.

 

TAKE ACTION! Support Byrne-JAG & MIOTCRA Funding

Congressional sign-on letters in support of funding for the Byrne-Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne-JAG) Program and the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA) are circulating in the House and Senate. 

Known as “Dear Colleagues,” these letters are an important way for Members of Congress to express their support for particular programs to the Appropriations Committees at the beginning of the annual funding cycle. 

For the past several years, these Congressional sign-on letters have attracted broad bipartisan support.  We encourage you to ask the members of your Congressional delegations to sign on to these letters.

The Senate letter in support of the Byrne-JAG Program is led by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA).  The House letter in support of MIOTCRA funding is led by Congressmen Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Doug Collins (R-GA), and John Conyers (D-MI).  The letters thank Appropriations subcommittees for their strong support in the past and ask for continued strong funding in FY16.  (The letters are attached to this report for your convenience and review).

Members of the Senate wishing to sign the Grassley/Cantwell letter should contact Evelyn Fortier in Senator Grassley’s office (evelyn_fortier@judiciary-rep.senate.gov) or Rico Janssen in Senator Cantwell’s office (rico_janssen@cantwell.senate.gov) by COB Monday, March 23rd.

House offices wishing to sign the Lance/Scott/Collins/Conyers letter should contact Ryan Farrell with Congressman Lance (ryan.farrell@mail.house.gov) or Sally Rose Larson with Congressman Doug Collins (sally.larson@mail.house.gov) by COB Friday, March 20th.

This is an important step in the Congressional appropriations process.  We appreciate your help to show the importance of these programs in your communities. 

If you have any questions about either of these programs, please contact Melissa Nee at:  mnee@napo.org.

Grassley-Cantwell_Dear_Colleague_letter_FY16_Byrne_JAG_appropriations.pdf

JMHCP_CJS_Approps.docx

NAPO Supports the RAISE Act

Last week, NAPO pledged our support for the Responsible Additions and Increases to Sustain Employee (RAISE) Health Benefits Act of 2015 (H.R. 1185), sponsored by Congressman Steve Stivers (R-OH).  This bill responds to individuals who have been negatively impacted by guidelines set forth in the Affordable Care Act regarding Flexible Spending Arrangements (FSAs).  (NAPO’s letter of support is attached to this report for your convenience and review).

Law enforcement officers across the United States rely on FSAs to pay for healthcare services and items that are not covered by insurance.  Officers have been negatively impacted by guidelines set forth in the Affordable Care Act, which decreased the amount an officer could contribute to an FSA from $5,000 per year to $2,500 per year.  Even more, these accounts’ end-of-year balances do not roll over from year to year, and the remaining funds are forfeited.

The RAISE Act solves these issues by canceling the “use-it-or-lose-it” rule for all FSAs, allowing families to build balances over several years.  The bill also doubles the current FSA annual contribution cap to $5,000 per year and allows families with more than two dependents to save an additional $500 a year for each additional dependent.

In today’s economic climate, it is important to maximize personal savings, especially in regard to an officer’s annual healthcare expenses.  The RAISE Act will ensure that officers can build savings needed to address their families’ medical costs.

NAPO looks forward to working with Congressman Stivers to pass his important legislation.  If you have any questions about this bill, please contact Melissa Nee at:  mnee@napo.org.

NAPO_Supports_the_RAISE_Act_FINAL.pdf

NAPO Supports the SALTS Act

Last week, NAPO sent the attached letter of support for the Synthetic Abuse and Labeling of Toxic Substances (SALTS) Act of 2015 (H.R. 1183), sponsored by Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-TX)

The SALTS Act will address the growing problems associated with synthetic drugs.  There have been reports from states around the country of people acting violently while under the influence of these drugs, leading to deaths or injuries to themselves and others. While taking these drugs, people can experience elevated heart rates and blood pressure, hallucinations, seizures, and extreme agitation.  By making it easier to prove that synthetic drugs are intended for human consumption, this legislation will help law enforcement in their efforts to get these drugs off the streets and out of stores.

NAPO looks forward to working with Congressman Thornberry and his staff to pursue the passage of this bill.  If you have any questions about this legislation, please contact Melissa Nee at:  mnee@napo.org.

NAPO_Supports_the_SALTS_Act_.pdf 

NAPO Attends Blue Mass Steering Committee Meeting

On March 10, 2015, NAPO participated in the first committee meeting on the 21st Annual Blue Mass.  The Blue Mass is held each year at the beginning of National Police Week at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Washington, D.C.  Representatives of federal and local law enforcement and public safety agencies from the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area attend the Blue Mass to pray for those in law enforcement and fire safety, remember those who have fallen, and support those who serve. 

This year’s Blue Mass is scheduled for Tuesday, May 5, 2015, at 12:10pm.  

If you have any questions about the Blue Mass, please contact Melissa Nee at:  mnee@napo.org.

Blue_Mass_Email_Announcement_and_Flyer.pdf

Law Enforcement Letter Regarding ALPR Technology

Last week, NAPO joined other law enforcement groups on a letter to Congressional leadership to express concerns about efforts to portray automated license plate recognition (ALPR) technology as a national real-time tracking capability for law enforcement.  (The letter is attached to this report for your convenience and review).

False story lines, misinformation, and sensational letters about ALPR technology are creating unfounded fear.  The fact is that this technology and the data it generates is not used to track people in real time, but is used every single day to generate investigative leads, solve murders, rapes, and serial property crimes, recover abducted children, detect drug and human trafficking rings, apprehend criminal alien fugitives, and support terrorism investigations.

Reports of persistent, continuous government tracking of individuals using ALPR information are factually inaccurate.  Attempts by some advocates and legislators to curtail the use of technology by law enforcement without a proper and fair oversight effort to truly understand the nature of the data, how it is used, and how it is protected is very concerning.

The letter responds to harmful proposals, appropriations amendments, and legislation to restrict or completely ban law enforcement’s use of ALPR technology and data without any effort to truly understand the issue.  Any basic review would make clear that the legitimate value of this technology is beyond question, and that protections against misuse of the data by law enforcement are already in place. 

The law enforcement groups stressed that if misguided legislative efforts to curtail ALPR use are successful, federal, state, and local law enforcement’s ability to investigate crimes will be significantly impacted given the extensive use of the technology today.

NAPO joined the other groups in urging Congress to recognize the substantial daily benefits of this technology to protect the public and investigate dangerous criminals.  We also urged opposition to any bill or amendment that would restrict the use of ALPR technology without full consideration of the issue.

If you have any questions about this issue, please contact Melissa Nee at:  mnee@napo.org.

 FINAL_Law_Enforcement_LPR_Letter_to_Congress_-_March_2015.pdf

ATF Drops Proposed Ammo Ban

Last week, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said it was dropping the proposal to change the 1968 Gun Control Act that would ban M855 ammunition due to overwhelming public opposition.

NAPO is closely following this issue, and we will keep our members updated on all relevant news regarding ATF’s proposal.  If you have any questions about this issue, please contact Bill Johnson at:  bjohnson@napo.org .