NAPO Washington Reports

House Judiciary Committee Approves NAPO-Backed Pretrial Release Reporting Act;NAPO on the Hill: WEP & GPO; COPS Reauthorization; PSOB; NAPO Supports Bill Tackling Deepfake Revenge Porn; House Appropriations Subcommittee Approves CJS Bill; NAPO Opposes Potential Sale of Vista Outdoor’s Ammunition Business to Foreign Entity; NIRS Releases New Report on the Role of Pensions in Recruiting and Retaining Public Safety Officers;

June 28, 2024

House Judiciary Committee Approves NAPO-Backed
Pretrial Release Reporting Act

The House Judiciary Committee approved the Pretrial Release Reporting Act (H.R. 2833) on June 27.  This bill, sponsored by Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Congressman Scott Fitzgerald (R-WI), would require the Department of Justice (DOJ) to issue a report to Congress within 180 days detailing information on individuals released on bail and pretrial release from state courts charged with violent felony offenses.

States and localities are increasingly embracing bail reform, and these efforts are supported by millions of dollars in federal grant monies to help states and municipalities enact pre-trial release programs. These programs, which allow accused criminals to await their trial at home, rather than in jail, often serve repeat, dangerous criminals, with little oversight, putting public safety at risk.  Increased oversight of these programs would decrease the possibility of the accused committing crimes while on pre-trial release or simply disappearing to avoid facing justice.

The Pretrial Release Reporting Act addresses the lack of oversight of these programs. The reporting requirements of this bill will inform Congress and the American people on how often violent criminals are released from state courts on bail and how often they re-offend while out on bail.  As federal dollars are going towards bailing out criminals, this Act would help ensure that the accused face justice and our communities are protected.

NAPO is working with the Committee staff and Congressman Fitzgerald on moving this important bill to the House floor for a vote.

NAPO on the Hill: WEP & GPO; COPS Reauthorization; PSOB 

NAPO has been meeting with lawmakers and Committee staff in an effort to move several of our legislative priorities before Congress adjourns for August recess including the COPS Reauthorization Act (S. 1306), the Social Security Fairness Act (H.R. 82 / S. 597), and the Honoring Our Fallen Heroes Act (H.R. 1719 / S. 930).

COPS Reauthorization

We have been working to move legislation to reauthorize our top priority grant program, the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Program, since the beginning of the year, and included it in our list of National Police Week priorities. The COPS Reauthorization Act, sponsored by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), has been listed on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s markup calendar since National Police Week, but has not been acted on due to opposition from Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and other Committee members who want to see police reform language added to the bill. NAPO worked diligently over the past three months with Senator Klobuchar’s staff and Chairman Richard Durbin’s (D-IL) staff as well as several of our law enforcement partners to find a compromise that would add transparency and accountability to the COPS Program while not attaching onerous strings to COPS grants. Unfortunately, our efforts were unsuccessful and we were not able to find a path forward. 

The COPS Program has not been reauthorized since 2006, but thankfully, Congress recognizes the vital importance of the resources and grant funding provided by COPS to state and local law enforcement and continues to appropriate funding for the program.

NAPO is maintaining our push for a clean reauthorization of the COPS Program, which houses many of important initiatives including the COPS Hiring Program, the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act and the Supporting and Treating Officers in Crisis Act programs, the National Blue Alert Network, expanded access to active shooter training through the POLICE Act, and activities authorized by the Law Enforcement De-Escalation Training Act. We thank Senator Klobuchar for standing with us as we tried to negotiate a deal and for her continued support for law enforcement. We are working with both Chairman Durbin’s and Ranking Member Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) staff to find a path forward for the bill.

Social Security Fairness Act

NAPO met with House Ways and Means Committee staff to discuss a path forward for the Social Security Fairness Act (H.R. 82), which currently has 322 bipartisan cosponsors.  The Committee has held two hearings on the bill – the first to hear from victims of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the second to hear from think tanks on the impact of repealing these provisions on the Social Security Trust Fund and possible policy solutions. With this much momentum behind the bill, we are pushing for the Committee to mark up H.R. 82 and send it to the House floor for a vote.

Unfortunately, the significant cost of the bill (roughly $180 billion) is proving to be a large obstacle to moving it forward.  The bill’s sponsor, Congressman Garrett Graves (R-LA), is determined to find a way to pay for the cost of the bill, but we are concerned with what those pay-fors may be. In our meeting with Committee staff, we expressed our concerns with mandatory Social Security possibly being on the table and while repealing the GPO and WEP is our top priority, we cannot support it if it means requiring state and local government participation in Social Security (see NAPO’s Legislative Priority Book for more details on what mandatory Social Security would mean).

Where we find ourselves is that the Social Security Fairness Act will not move forward as it is currently written this Congress without being paid for unless Congressman Graves and the bill’s other sponsor, Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), decide to pull the trigger on a discharge petition. This move allows a majority of House members to bring a bill to the floor for a vote that has not been marked up in Committee. A similar move was attempted last Congress, but a vote on the bill was thwarted by the Ways and Means Committee marking up the bill and killing our chances of passing it in the House.

NAPO stands ready to support efforts – whether through finding an acceptable pay-for or by moving a discharge petition – to move the Social Security Fairness Act to the House floor for a vote.

Honoring Our Fallen Heroes Act

NAPO met with Senator Klobuchar’s staff on moving her bill, the Honoring Our Fallen Heroes Act (S. 930), that would recognize exposure-related cancers as line of duty injuries under the Department of Justice’s Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) Program. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill unanimously on May 16 during National Police Week.

Our nation’s public safety officers put their lives at risk every day.  Sometimes unnoticed are the officers pulling families from burning cars or saving children from house fires or those responding to chemical fires or train wrecks like the one in East Palestine, Ohio.  These acts of heroism often have long-term consequences for the officers, including exposure-related cancers. The Honoring Our Fallen Heroes Act will ensure that officers suffering from these cancers and their families get the benefits they have earned. 

The Honoring Our Fallen Heroes Act is a priority for Senator Klobuchar, and she is prepared to move this bill through the Senate in any way possible, including attaching it to must-pass legislation being taken up by the Senate.  NAPO is working to support her efforts and shore up support for the bill to remove any obstacles to its passage. 

NAPO Supports Bill Tackling Deepfake Revenge Porn

NAPO pledged our support for the bipartisan Tools to Address Known Exploitation by Immobilizing Technological Deepfakes on Websites and Networks (TAKE IT DOWN) Act (S. 4569), introduced by Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), which would criminalize the publication of non-consensual intimate imagery or the threat to publish such images and would require websites to take down these images at the request of the victim.

In a world where generative AI is increasingly being used to create deepfakes, it is vital that federal laws be updated to protect individuals against the creation and nonconsensual sharing of deepfake intimate and explicit images. These images, which disproportionately target women and minors, must be recognized as the severe privacy violations that they are. By establishing federal liability for those who generate and distribute these images without consent, the TAKE IT DOWN Act will help law enforcement bring justice to the victims of these crimes.

On June 26, Senate Cruz, Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Committee, hosted a field hearing in Dallas, Texas titled, “Take It Down: Ending Big Tech’s Complicity In Revenge Porn” during which the Committee heard testimony from victims of revenge and deepfake pornography as well as from victim advocates, who discussed efforts to stop the disturbing content’s spread, including the TAKE IT DOWN Act.

NAPO also supports the SHIELD Act, sponsored by Senator Klobuchar, which would narrowly establish federal criminal liability for individuals who share private, explicit images without consent. Taken together, the SHIELD Act and the TAKE IT DOWN Act would protect victims of both real and fake non-consensual intimate imagery and give law enforcement the tools necessary to bring perpetrators to justice.

NAPO thanks Senators Klobuchar and Cruz for their leadership on these important bills and we look forward to working with them to see them enacted into law.

House Appropriations Subcommittee Approves CJS Bill

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) approved its version of the Fiscal Year 2025 CJS Appropriations bill on June 26 along party lines. The bill would reduce the budget for the Department of Justice by nearly $1 billion mainly through cuts to federal law enforcement agencies, particularly the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Despite the large cut, the bill maintains relatively steady funding for state and local law enforcement assistance grant programs.

We are grateful that the House continues to support the COPS Program and the Bryne JAG Program and the various grants, programs, and initiatives they provide resources for, but we feel there is more that can be done to assist state and local law enforcement in their efforts to serve and protect our communities.  For example, the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act and the Supporting and Treating Officers in Crisis Act programs remain at $10 million under the FY 25 CJS appropriations measure. The law enforcement community needs much more than the $10 million currently appropriated for these programs to adequately address officers’ mental health needs. A significant funding increase is necessary for the establishment of confidential peer mentoring programs in cities and states across the country.

Further, the Subcommittee-approved CJS bill would cut the Bureau of Justice Assistance Body-Worn Camera program by nearly 40 percent, drastically reducing the amount of funding and assistance available to state and local law enforcement agencies looking to establish or expand body-worn camera programs. The incredible cost of body-worn cameras, particularly the storage of the data, is often an obstacle to agencies arming their officers with these cameras. 

Lastly, we are concerned with the deep cuts to the FBI and ATF as this funding cut be on top of the reductions these agencies experienced this fiscal year. This drop in funding would impact the recruitment and retention of federal officers, the ability of these agencies to support federal-state-local task forces and provide essential resources in state and local law enforcement’s fight against violent crime and drugs in our communities. Defunding federal law enforcement will have an adverse impact on state and local law enforcement

As the full Appropriations Committee looks to take up the FY 25 CJS appropriations bill after the House returns from its July 4 recess, we look forward to working with the Committee and House leadership to bolster funding for vital federal, state, and local law enforcement programs.

NAPO Opposes Potential Sale of Vista Outdoor’s Ammunition
Business to Foreign Entity

NAPO has security concerns with the proposed acquisition of Vista Outdoor’s Sporting Products business by the Czechoslovak Group (CSG) and expressed our concerns with Attorney General Merrick Garland in two letters, one sent on April 26 and the other on June 20. Since our initial April 26 letter to the Attorney General, the potential sale has gotten the attention of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) antitrust division, which is now investigating the deal.

For decades, Vista and its brands including Speer, Federal, and Remington have been trusted partners of our U.S. law enforcement community. Officers across the country rely on Vista for ammunition and primers to protect their communities and safeguard lives. Vista has millions of dollars’ worth of supply contracts with NAPO’s local law enforcement agencies (e.g., New York Police Department, Los Angeles Police Department), as well as federal law enforcement agencies (e.g., Federal Bureau of Investigation, Secret Service, Customs and Border Protection) and our nation’s armed forces.  American ownership matters – especially when it comes to vital American law enforcement agencies and strategic national security assets like Vista Outdoor.

NAPO also has concerns with CSG’s ability to deliver high-quality ammunition in a timely manner to the Ukrainian military as part of the Czech Ammunition Initiative. There have been reports and accusations about the poor quality of the ammunition and delays in the delivery of ammunition to Ukraine. Further, with CSG’s vast network of non-U.S. customers around the world, including Ukraine, American law enforcement stands to experience price increases and longer lead times for necessary equipment and resources to keep themselves and our citizens safe.

NAPO’s unease with the potential transaction has also receive attention in the press, with Politico highlighting our June 20 letter in a June 25 article titled, “Sale of big US ammo business could hit antitrust snag.”  The article quoted our concern that if the proposed sale is approved, CSG – a foreign entity – would not only own the leading supplier of lead-free ammunition to U.S. law enforcement but the company would also increase its market share in the space, potentially leading to greater pricing power.

We continue to press our concerns with this deal to the Attorney General and are closely watching what actions DOJ takes on it.

NIRS Releases New Report on the Role of Pensions in Recruiting and Retaining Public Safety Officers

The National Institute for Retirement Security (NIRS) issued a report this month entitled, “The Role of Defined Benefit Pensions in Recruiting and Retaining Public Safety Professionals.” This report examines data from state and local police and fire pension plans from across the country and looks at how defined benefit pension plans help with the recruitment, retention, and retirement of public safety officers. The data provided by this report also highlights how state and local governments that moved away from traditional defined benefit plans have experienced a marked increase in employee turnover.

Additionally, the report looks at special aspects of a defined benefit plan that are important to public safety officers, including Social Security coverage, retiree healthcare, and whether or not a Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) is available.

This NIRS report shows that defined benefit pension plans largely succeed in supporting the recruitment, retention and retirement of public safety officers, as it found more than half of new hires are expected to retire from their public safety pension plan, which is significantly more than what the private sector experiences.