NAPO President Addresses Republican National Convention; NAPO Leadership Meets with Attorney General; PSOB COVID Presumption Signed into Law; NAPO in the News; NAPO Supports Efforts to Protect Public Safety 4.9GHz Broadband Spectrum; Negotiations on Next Coronavirus Aid Package Hit a Wall; House Resolution Introduced in Support of an Officer Bill of Rights;August 28, 2020
NAPO President Addresses Republican National Convention
On August 26, NAPO President Mick McHale addressed the Republican National Convention about our support for and decision to endorse President Donald Trump for re-election. McHale stated that our endorsement recognizes the President’s strong support for the men and women on the front lines, particularly during these challenging times. We value his support of aggressive federal prosecution of those who attack our police officers, his signing of the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act into law, and his support for permanently authorizing funds to assist 9/11 first responders and their families.
NAPO believes President Trump will continue his strong law enforcement support into his second term, and we are proud to support him. View McHale’s address here.
McHale also was at the White House on August 27 to witness President Trump accept his party’s nomination to be President of the United States.
NAPO Leadership Meets with Attorney General
On August 10, NAPO President Mick McHale and Executive Director Bill Johnson met with Attorney General William Barr for an intimate law enforcement listening session with national law enforcement organizations. Also in attendance were Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Justice Programs Katie Sullivan and Director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Phil Keith.
NAPO expressed our gratitude to the Attorney General for the continued, strong support for the law enforcement community from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Administration. When asked what else the DOJ could be doing to help law enforcement, McHale and Johnson suggested creating a system through which state and local law enforcement organizations could bring to the attention of the Department violent attacks on officers that are not being prosecuted. This would be a way not only to track this information, but also see if the Department can take steps to investigate or correct the situation.
During a discussion on the President’s Executive Order on Safe Policing for Safe Neighborhoods, NAPO recommended that in building a national registry of police officers, there needs to be a way for an officer to remove their name from the registry if they have proven they are rehabilitated. We also stressed that there needs to be due process and that any complaints associated with the officer on the registry must be substantiated, to which the Attorney General strongly agreed.
NAPO appreciates the opportunity to meet with the Attorney General and we look forward to working with the Department has it begins implementing the Executive Order.
PSOB COVID Presumption Signed into Law
The President has signed into law S. 3607, the Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act, which establishes a presumption under the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) Program that an officer’s death or disability due to contracting COVID-19 is in the line of duty. This is a big victory for NAPO. To date, at least195 officers have died in the line of duty due to COVID-19 and now their families are assured to get the benefits they rightly deserve in a timely manner.
To qualify for the presumption, the officer must have:
- Engaged in a line of duty action or activity between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2021; and
- Received a diagnosis of COVID-19 (or evidence indicates that the officer had COVID-19) during the 45-day period beginning on the last day of duty of the officer. For death benefits, evidence must indicate that the officer had COVID-19 or complications from COVID-19 at the time of death.
NAPO is working with the PSOB Office as they begin to approve COVID-19 related cases under the new presumption. It is vital that the families of every officer who has died from this virus and meet the requirements above, know they will qualify for PSOB benefits and submit claims as soon as possible.
NAPO in the News
NAPO Executive Director Bill Johnson was quoted in an August 20 article in The Federalist entitled, “Chiefs, Detectives and Police Unions Slam Goodyear’s Anti-Cop Policy: ‘It’s Just Disgusting’”, regarding a picture of a slide from Goodyear’s sensitivity training that seemed to prohibit “Blue Lives Matter” attire, while allowing “Black Lives Matter”. As Goodyear is a major provider of tires for police vehicles, Johnson stated that this policy is particularly offensive:
“From our point of view, it’s just disgusting. It would be wrong for any employer to try to dictate their employees’ thoughts or feelings or political views, but in this case, I think they’re on the wrong side of it.”
“To see today, a company that has made millions of dollars off police officers publicly declare that they don’t care about their lives, their very lives, that it’s unacceptable for an employee to support their beliefs is just disgusting,” Johnson said. “At the same time, the company says it’s OK for their employees to support a group that calls for the murder of police officers. It’s just disgusting.”
Johnson stated, “Our group would encourage not just individual officers and their families and their friends and their neighbors to avoid Goodyear products, but police departments, manufacturers, and the companies which service police vehicles. Stay away from Goodyear.”
In response to this outcry, Goodyear CEO and President Rich Kramer released a statement on the matter, saying that the company strongly supports law enforcement and they have clarified their policy to make it clear that employees can show their support for the law enforcement community through apparel.
NAPO Supports Efforts to Protect Public Safety 4.9GHz
NAPO is working with the Public Safety Spectrum Alliance to support efforts to protect the public safety 4.9 gigahertz (GHz) broadband spectrum, which was given to first responders in 2002, in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Since then, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has allocated 50 megahertz of the 4.9 GHz spectrum to Public Safety. However, the FCC recently issued a proposed rulemaking to promote expanding the use of the spectrum beyond the public safety communications for which it is currently reserved.
Expanding the use of the 4.9 GHz spectrum and forcing public safety to share the band risks lowering the quality of communications and the band no longer meeting the communications needs of first responders. It goes against the intent for giving public safety the 4.9 spectrum in the first place, which was to give first responders interoperable communications in order that federal, state and local public safety agencies can better communicate with each other, without interference, during disasters.
NAPO stands with the Public Safety Spectrum Alliance in its call to allocate the 4.9 GHz spectrum exclusively to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). In 2012, Congress authorized FirstNet, an independent authority within the Commerce Department, to develop, build, and operate a national public safety broadband network that will allow first responders to communicate between agencies and within their own departments in all 50 states. Protecting public safety’s sole use of the 4.9 spectrum and adding it to FirstNet will ensure first responders nationwide are have access to the most technologically advanced communications capability so that when they are called upon to assist in a disaster, they have the tools necessary to protect our nation’s communities and themselves.
Negotiations on Next Coronavirus Aid Package Hit a Wall
It is the end of August and the White House and Democratic Congressional leadership remain far from a final agreement on the next COVID-19 relief package. Meanwhile, Congress is not scheduled to come back into session until after Labor Day. As the end of the fiscal year is quickly approaching, Congress is also facing a possible government shutdown unless an agreement on a Continuing Resolution (CR) to extend current funding levels is agreed to by September 30. The White House has indicated that they support combining the aid package with a CR, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) does not support that move at this time.
NAPO continues to press Congressional leaders to include additional, flexible economic assistance to state and local governments in this next aid package. State and local aid continues to be a top priority for Democrats. While the Administration has moved from opposing providing any new funding to state and local governments to being willing to provide some, Democrats say their offer falls far short of what is needed. Republicans have also offered to create flexibility for the use of existing aid, allowing it to be used to make up for revenue shortfalls and extending the date for using that aid. Flexibility with currently available funding would certainly be helpful, but it is not enough to stave off the significant budget cuts that state and local governments will soon be forced to make. Public safety will not be immune to these cuts and that will put our communities at risk.
This has become one of the major sticking points in the negotiations, with Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-CA) sticking to the nearly $1 trillion in state and local aid that passed the House as part of the HEROES Act. Republicans, in their opposition to such a high amount, point to a Treasury Department Office of Inspector General report that found that, on average, states have not used three-quarters of the currently available funding from the CARES Act.
There currently is not enough support in the Senate amongst Republicans for another COVID-19 relief package, even a pared down one, so any agreement must have significant Democrat support to pass.
We will keep our members updated on the latest as these negotiations continue.
House Resolution Introduced in Support of
an Officer Bill of Rights
On August 22, Representatives Lee Zeldin (R-NY) and Peter King (R-NY) introduced House Resolution (H.Res) 1093 in support of America’s law enforcement officers and the creating of a law enforcement officer bill of rights. NAPO strongly supports the efforts of Representatives Zeldin and King to call attention to the need to protect officer due process rights during the course of an investigation. The creation of a national law enforcement officer procedural bill of rights has long been a top priority of NAPO.
No one of us would condone shielding officers who have committed crimes, yet we must remain vigilant in protecting an officer’s legitimate due process rights. These rights are crucial and necessary to preserve the integrity of the criminal justice system as a whole, particularly when media and political pressure lead to an irrational rush to judgment aimed at condemning law enforcement before all the facts are known.
NAPO believes there is a serious need for the implementation of national standards and procedures to guide both state and local law enforcement agencies and law enforcement officers during internal investigations, administrative hearings, and evaluation of citizen complaints. Too often law enforcement officers are subjected to the whim of their departments or local politics during internal investigations and administrative hearings. Law enforcement officers in less than twenty states have been given statutory bills of rights granting comprehensive procedural protections to officers in the complaint investigation and disciplinary process. These rights need to be uniform and guaranteed to officers throughout the country.
Further, national standards for complaint investigation and disciplinary processes would provide greater transparency and accountability to internal investigations, which would increase public trust.
This resolution calls on Congress to respect the rights of police officers to carry out their duties to protect our communities with integrity and to have essential protections during the course of investigations. NAPO thanks Representatives Zeldin and King for standing up for and working on behalf of the law enforcement community.
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.