NAPO Continues to Engage Administration on Behalf of Members; Senate Passes Rafael Ramos & Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act; Senate Judiciary Committee Passes Comprehensive Justice & Mental Health Act; NAPO Submits Comments Regarding Cadillac Tax; NAPO Supports Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act; NAPO Submits Comments Regarding Firearm Enhancement Sentencing Guidelines; NAPO Meetings on Capital Hill; Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act; NAPO TOP COPS Winners & Honorable Mention Recipients; BJA Releases FY 2015 Grant Solicitation for State & Local Law EnforcementMay 4, 2015
NAPO Continues to Engage Administration on Behalf of Members
On April 29, 2015, NAPO’s Executive Director, Bill Johnson, participated in a teleconference with the Department of Justice’s Acting Attorney General (AAG) for the Civil Rights Division, Vanita Gupta, and the Director of the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office, Ron Davis, to discuss recent events in Baltimore. Later that week, Johnson participated in a White House teleconference, which included an update on the situation in Baltimore. The White House conference call included Senior Advisor to the President, Valerie Jarrett, AAG Vanita Gupta, and Deputy Assistant to the President for Urban Affairs, Justice and Opportunity, and Domestic Policy, Roy Austin.
Following these engagements, NAPO published this open letter to reinforce our commitment to officers across the country, who put their lives on the line each and every to protect our communities. As you will read in the letter, we continue to urge political leaders across the nation to support our officers during these difficult times, as our officers continue to work to strengthen relationships with the communities they serve.
NAPO will continue to expend every available effort to ensure our officers have the support that they need, as they continue to work to protect our nation. We will continue to engage the Administration and members of Congress to ensure our officers’ voices are heard loud and clear, and they receive the protection they need during this difficult time.
If you have any questions about our efforts, please contact Bill Johnson at: email@example.com.
NAPO in the News
NAPO’s Executive Director, Bill Johnson, was interviewed by the Boston Herald last week regarding Loretta Lynch’s first week as Attorney General and her response to recent events in Baltimore.
The article highlights that “civil rights organizations are urging Lynch, who has already sent DOJ officials to Baltimore to meet with residents and community leaders, to show up in person in the weeks ahead. But Lynch must also reach out to the rank-and-file officers who patrol those communities and assure them that she is on their side, too.”
Johnson explained: “It’s a great opportunity…She can turn the page in the relationship that exists between local law enforcement and the federal DOJ.”
The full article is available at the following site:
Johnson was also quoted in a McClathy DC article regarding the announcement that six police officers would face criminal charges in the death of Freddie Gray.
In the article, Johnson explained that “officers are not frequently charged criminally involving the death of a subject not because officers aren’t scrutinized, but because usually the officers acted in accordance with the law.”
In response to Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s announcement of charges against the officers, Johnson noted: “I don’t know how much of it is, frankly, a response to political pressure. I hope none of it…But I think it’s naive to think that the elected state’s attorney isn’t sensitive to what’s going on politically.”
“The politicization of police use-of-force cases is a growing concern among law enforcement officers Nationally…‘It seems that so many cities across the country are being subjected to these violent mobs that are protesting and it can’t help but agitate for political attacks on police and sometimes physical attacks on police.’”
“Johnson stressed that although the allegations are serious, they still are just allegations. ‘The officers, just like anybody else, are entitled to the presumption of innocence, just like anyone else.’”
The full article is available at the following site: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2015/05/01/265230/police-face-criminal-charges-in.html#storylink=cpy.
NAPO will continue to ensure or 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
NAPO VICTORY!!! Senate Passes Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act
On April 30, 2015, the Senate passed the Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act. NAPO has expended all available efforts to garner support for this critical piece of legislation, and we are thrilled to report this victory to our members.
The Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act will assist with the establishment of a nationwide Blue Alert system to apprehend violent criminals who have injured or killed police officers or who have made an imminent or credible threat to cause serious injury or death of a law enforcement officer. This bill is named in honor of two New York City Police Detectives, and NAPO members, who were assassinated while sitting in their police patrol car in December 2014. Their killer posted threats to law enforcement on social media before the attack. Implementing a nationwide Blue Alert system will help to ensure that information on credible threats, like those posted by the individual who killed Detectives Ramos and Liu, is widely disseminated so that officers have advanced warning, and can apprehend the criminal before he or she can do more harm.
NAPO has worked closely with the Blue Alert bill’s sponsors, Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), to garner support for this legislation. NAPO’s Executive Director, Bill Johnson, participated in a press conference with Senator Cardin and the House bill’s sponsors, Congressmen Dave Reichert (R-WA) and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), on March 24, 2015, to bring attention to the importance of this legislation.
In addition to the press conference, NAPO has spent countless hours engaging staffers for key members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to garner support for this bill. We are ecstatic that our efforts were successful, and we’re looking forward to working with you to ensure this bill becomes law.
If you have any questions about the Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act, please contact Melissa Nee at: email@example.com.
NAPO VICTORY!!! Senate Judiciary Committee Passes Comprehensive Justice & Mental Health Act
On April 30, 2015, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act. This legislation, sponsored by Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and Congressman Doug Collins (R-GA), would improve outcomes for the criminal justice system, the mental health system, and for those with mental health conditions by doing the following, among other things:
- Extending the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA), and continuing support for mental health courts and crisis intervention teams;
- Authorizing investments in veterans treatment courts, which serve arrested veterans who suffer from PTSD, substance addiction, and other mental health conditions;
- Supporting state and local efforts to identify people with mental health conditions at each point in the criminal justice system in order to appropriately direct them to mental health services;
- Increasing focus on corrections-based programs, such as transitional services that reduce recidivism rates and screening practices that identify inmates with mental health conditions;
- Supporting the development of curricula for police academies and orientations; and
- Developing programs to train federal law enforcement officers in how to respond appropriately to incidents involving a person with a mental health condition.
Last week, NAPO contacted key members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to express our support for the bill, and urge that the Committee vote to advance the legislation.
NAPO is thrilled to share the news of this victory with our members, and we look forward to working with Senator Franken, Congressman Collins, and other stakeholders to pass the Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act during this Congress.
If you have any questions about this legislation, please contact Melissa Nee at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Collins Introduce Bipartisan Measure to Combat Mental Health Crisis in Criminal Justice System." Al Franken-Senator for Minnesota. N.p., 16 Apr. 2015. Web. 16 Apr. 2015.
NAPO Submits Comments to IRS Regarding Cadillac Tax
Last week, NAPO submitted comments to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in response to Notice 2015-16, regarding the excise tax on high cost employer-sponsored health coverage under Section 49801 of the Internal Revenue Code.
NAPO is very concerned that beginning in 2018, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, (“Obamacare”), imposes a new 40% annual excise tax on taxpayers who are covered by high cost health insurance plans, so-called “Cadillac” health insurance plans. This tax would apply to plans with premiums at or above $10,200 for an individual or $27,500 for a family, including worker and employer contributions to flexible spending or healthcare savings accounts.
Although higher thresholds are set for workers in high risk professions, such as public safety officers ($11,850 for an individual and $30,950 for a family), to qualify for the higher threshold amounts, the majority of members in the healthcare plan must work in high risk professions. Many public safety officers would not qualify for the higher threshold amounts, as they participate in general healthcare plans where the majority of participants do not work in high risk professions.
After completing a survey, NAPO confirmed that officers and their families across the country will be negatively impacted by the “Cadillac” health insurance plan tax. To illustrate this point, officers in our member groups, including the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, Police Conference of New York State, Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, Dade County (Miami), Florida Police Benevolent Association, and the Postal Police Officers’ Association will be negatively impacted by the “Cadillac” health insurance plan tax. Members of the Sarasota Police Department (Florida), Waltham Police Department (Massachusetts), and Southold Town Police Department (New York) will also be negatively impacted by the tax. These public safety officers would not qualify for the higher threshold amounts, as they participate in health insurance plans where the majority of participants do not work in high risk professions. Even more, this list represents only a fraction of the officers who will be negatively impacted by the “Cadillac” health insurance plan tax.
Setting higher thresholds for public safety officers thus will not adequately protect officers from the tax burden, as thousands of officers participate in plans that include a majority of employees who do not work in high risk professions. Section 49801of the Internal Revenue Code must be modified to ensure that all public safety officers are eligible for the higher threshold amounts, regardless of the composition of the officer’s healthcare plan. In addition, the Service’s guidance and interpretation of Section 49801 should reflect the clear intent of Congress that public safety officers should generally be excluded from the effects of this new tax, and that the higher dollar thresholds should be given effect to shield officers and their families, regardless of what other workers also participate in their applicable health care plans.
Such a determination would be consistent with the unquestioned Congressional intent that public safety officers be protected from the impact of this new tax.
NAPO is most grateful to all of our members who provided feedback on how the “Cadillac” tax will affect their groups. As you will read, it greatly strengthened our argument.
If you have any questions about our efforts to ensure that our members are not negatively impacted by the “Cadillac” tax, please contact Bill Johnson at: email@example.com.
NAPO Supports the Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act
Last week, NAPO pledged our support for the Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act, which was introduced by Congressman Joe Courtney (D-CT) on April 28, 2015. This legislation would repeal the excise tax on high-cost health insurance plans scheduled to go into effect in 2018. The excise tax was established in a later version of the Affordable Care Act, (“Obamacare”), but its scheduled implementation was delayed five years by an effort led by Courtney with 191 House colleagues in 2010. (For additional information on the “Cadillac” tax, please see the above article).
NAPO will continue to work with members of Congress to repeal the “Cadillac” tax, and ensure public safety officers and their families are not unduly burdened.
If you have any questions about this bill, please contact Melissa Nee at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Congressman Joe Courtney : Press Releases : Courtney Announces New Legislation to Repeal Excise Tax, Protect Workers' Health Benefits."Congressman Joe Courtney : Press Releases : Courtney Announces New Legislation to Repeal Excise Tax, Protect Workers' Health Benefits. N.p., 28 May 2015. Web. 03 May 2015.
NAPO Submits Comments to U.S. Sentencing Commission Regarding Firearm Enhancement Sentencing Guidelines
Last week, NAPO sent this letter to the Chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission to urge that the Commission review the application of “firearm enhancement” sentencing guidelines as they relate to law enforcement officers.
Title 18, United States Code, Section 924 provides in relevant part:
“[A]ny person who, during and in relation to any crime of violence … for which the person may be prosecuted in a court of the United States, uses or carries a firearm, or who, in furtherance of any such crime, possesses a firearm, shall, in addition to the punishment provided for such crime of violence . . .—(i) be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 5 years; (ii) if the firearm is brandished, be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 7 years; and (iii) if the firearm is discharged, be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 10 years.”
The aforementioned penalties that exist for using or carrying a firearm in relation to a criminal action are not appropriate for law enforcement officers. The application of “firearm enhancement” sentencing guidelines must be clarified to ensure that these enhancements do not automatically apply when a law enforcement officer is prosecuted, as law enforcement officers are required to carry a weapon as part of their official duties.
Officers are required to carry a duty weapon to protect the communities in which they serve. It is unjust for that officer to receive an enhanced sentence due to compliance with departmental policies.
NAPO feels strongly that the application of “firearm enhancement” sentencing guidelines must be reviewed and modified to ensure that law enforcement officers are not subject to harsher penalties for carrying an official duty weapon.
If you have any questions about NAPO’s request to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, please contact Bill Johnson at: email@example.com.
NAPO Meetings on Capitol Hill
On April 29, 2015, NAPO met with senior staffers for the following members of the House Ways and Means Committee: Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA), Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (D-CA), and Congressman Richard Neal (D-MA). NAPO used the meetings to provide information on the Don’t Tax Our Fallen Public Safety Heroes Act. This legislation clarifies that both federal and state death benefits for the survivors of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty should be treated the same and not be subjected to federal income tax. Survivor benefits for federal law enforcement officers are currently not subject to federal income tax, but there is some ambiguity about the treatment of these benefits for similar state-based programs.
On February 11, 2015, the Senate Finance Committee passed the Don’t Tax Our Fallen Public Safety Heroes Act by voice vote. The House companion bill has been assigned to the House Committee on Ways and Means.
NAPO also discussed other priorities during these meetings, including the Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act, the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act, and the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act.
The staffers were receptive to our proposals. NAPO will continue to work with fellow stakeholders to garner support for these important pieces of legislation. If you have any questions about our efforts, please contact Melissa Nee at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act
On April 22, 2015, the Senate unanimously approved the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (99-0). This package, which includes nearly all of the trafficking bills passed overwhelmingly by the House in January 2015, would provide much needed services to domestic victims and help ensure that child victims ensnared in the sex trade are no longer arrested and treated as criminals.
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.
NAPO expended all available efforts to ensure this legislation passed the Senate, and we continue to work with staffers for the legislation’s Senate and House sponsors, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX), to discuss strategies to ensure this bill passes the House. Additionally, last week, NAPO joined fellow stakeholders on a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to express our support for the bill and urge that the House take up and pass this legislation without delay. (To read an excerpt of this letter please click here).
NAPO will continue to work with other stakeholders to urge that the House pass the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act as soon as possible. We will keep our members updated on the status of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. If you have any questions about this legislation, please contact Melissa Nee at: email@example.com.
NAPO Congratulates TOP COPS Winners & Honorable Mention Recipients
Each year since 1994, NAPO has presented the TOP COPS Awards® Ceremony. The purpose of the TOP COPS Awards® is to educate the American public about our nation’s heroes and to pay tribute to law enforcement officers in federal, state, county, tribal and local agencies from across the country for actions above and beyond the call of duty during the preceding year. Our TOP COPS® are nominated by fellow officers. An independent Awards Selection Committee comprised of national law enforcement representatives select, from hundreds of nominations, one TOP COP® case from each of the 50 States and U.S. territories. Officers from the top ten cases are selected as our TOP COPS Award® Winners. In each remaining state, one case has been selected for which the officer(s) will receive an Honorable Mention award.
NAPO is looking forward to recognizing these courageous men and women during our TOP COPS Awards® ceremony on May 12, 2015. Here is the full list of our 2015 TOP COP winners and Honorable Mention recipients.
If you have any questions about the TOP COPS Awards®, please contact Elizabeth Loranger at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
BJA Releases FY 2015 Grant Solicitation for State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies
On May 1, 2015, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) released an FY 2015 grant solicitation for state and local law enforcement agencies for the Body-Worn Camera (BWC) Pilot Implementation Program.
The BWC solicitation will provide fiscal support to help law enforcement agencies develop, implement, and evaluate body-worn camera programs across the United States. BJA expects to make up to 50 awards to law enforcement agencies, with about one-third of the grants directed toward agencies with less than 250 officers.
In addition to the 50 awards, $2 million will go toward establishing a BWC Training and Technical Assistance Center, funded through a competitive process, focusing on agencies developing and enhancing their BWC programs. The Center will also provide national resources on BWC topics and address concerns related to the program.
BJA will also launch a BWC Implementation Toolkit in May, designed as an online resource for stakeholders. The toolkit will focus on implementation requirements, retention issues, policy concerns, interests of prosecutors, victim and privacy advocates’ concerns, along with community engagement and funding considerations.
OJP’s Bureau of Justice Statistics will receive $1 million of the funds to collect data on body-worn camera usage through surveys of law enforcement agencies. BJS will also design instruments that can be used in future surveys of prosecutors and public defenders about the impact of body-worn cameras.
The solicitation is available at the following site: https://www.bja.gov/Funding/15BWCsol.pdf.
"Body-Worn Camera Pilot Implementation Program FY 2015 Competitive Grant Announcement." Bureau of Justice Assistance (2015): www.bja.gov. Bureau of Justice Assistance, 1 May 2015. Web. 1 May 2015.
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