Grand Jury Reaches a Decision in Ferguson; NAPO Supports the Don’t Tax Our Fallen Public Safety Heroes Act; NAPO Meetings on Capitol Hill; NAPO Participates in LE Review Project; and TOP COPS® NominationsDecember 1, 2014
NAPO WASHINGTON REPORT
Grand Jury Reaches a Decision in Ferguson
On November 25, 2014, a Grand Jury decided that there was not enough probable cause to file any charges against Police Officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown.
Last week, NAPO’s Executive Director, Bill Johnson, participated in numerous interviews regarding the Grand Jury’s decision, including discussions with reporters for the following media outlets: Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Associated Press (twice), CBS Radio (twice), NPR, BBC, and CBC (Canadian Broadcast Company). During each of the interviews, Johnson stressed the following facts:
- The Grand Jury conducted an extensive and thorough review of Officer Wilson’s actions.
- The Grand Jury was given five options to indict Office Wilson, and found no probable cause that any crime was committed.
- Johnson also continues to challenge false statements that have been perpetuated by social media and news outlets, including the following:
- Media outlets reported that Officer Wilson shot Mr. Brown while he was surrendering, with his hands up, while others claimed that Officer Wilson shot Mr. Brown in the back while he was running away. All such claims have been proven false through autopsy findings and witness testimony. Evidence has clearly shown that Michael Brown was not surrendering with his hands in the air during this incident, nor was he shot in the back.
- The media reported that Officer Wilson was not aware of the robbery that took place, where Mr. Brown stole cigars from a local store. The media criticized the Ferguson Police Department’s decision to release a tape of the robbery. However, Officer Wilson heard a radio broadcast of a robbery in progress, as well as a brief description of the subject. Officer Wilson requested Mr. Brown and his companion move to the sidewalk upon recognizing Mr. Brown from the aforementioned dispatch. These facts make the release of the police tape relevant. Officer Wilson did know about the robbery, and properly initiated contact with Mr. Brown.
- Johnson also continues to stress that “unarmed” does not equate to “not a threat.” Officer Wilson is 6 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs about 210 pounds. Mr. Brown was an inch taller and weighed about 290 pounds. Officer Wilson was forced to defend himself as Michael Brown attempted to grab his gun, while he was inside his car. Later, Officer Wilson fired his weapon in self defense as Brown charged towards Officer Wilson.
We encourage you to review the following piece, which debunks the many myths surrounding the incident in Ferguson: https://napo.org/files/6014/1703/5808/The_Myths_of_Ferguson.pdf. (The paper is also attached to this report for your convenience and review).
If you have any questions about NAPO’s response to the Grand Jury’s decision, please contact Bill Johnson at: email@example.com.
NAPO Supports the “Don’t Tax Our Fallen Public Safety Heroes Act”
On November 26, 2014, NAPO sent the attached letter of support for Congressman Erik Paulsen’s (R-MN) “Don’t Tax Our Fallen Public Safety Heroes Act,” a companion bill to Senate legislation, which was also endorsed by NAPO. The Senate bill passed the Senate without opposition on September 18, 2014.
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.
NAPO looks forward to working with Congressman Paulsen to pass this important legislation. If you have any questions about this bill, please contact Melissa Nee at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
NAPO Meetings on Capitol Hill
On November 25, 2014, NAPO met with senior staffers for the following members of Congress: Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ), Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY), Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), and Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (D-CT). NAPO used the meeting to discuss the following pieces of legislation:
James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act: Each of the aforementioned members of Congress is a cosponsor of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act. NAPO expressed appreciation for the support the members have given to this important bill. 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.
Bulletproof Vest Partnership (BVP) Grant Act: The BVP Grant Program provides Federal funds to state and local law enforcement departments to assist state and local law enforcement efforts to purchase bullet resistant vests. NAPO continues to expend all available efforts to garner additional support for the House and Senate versions of this bill.
Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Improvement and Reauthorization Act: This bill would reauthorize the COPS Program for five years and raise the current hiring cap from $75,000 to $125,000. The COPS Office has been extremely successful in implementing and carrying out its designated objectives. Since its creation, the COPS Office has assisted over 13,000 of the nation’s 18,000 jurisdictions with over $14 billion in funding to hire more than 125,000 additional officers. Reauthorizing this program will allow for the continuation of a highly successful program that keeps our communities safe.
Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act (JMHCA): The Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA) created the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP) to help states and counties design and implement collaborative efforts between criminal justice and mental health systems. The JMHCA reauthorizes the successful MIOTCRA and extends the JMHCP for five years. The JMHCP can help law enforcement agencies across the United States in their responsibilities in assisting citizens with mental health issues.
Social Security Fairness Act: This bill would strike the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO) formulas currently used to calculate Social Security benefits. Both formulas were enacted in the 1980s because Congress was concerned Social Security paid unintended benefits to workers who had spent most of their careers in “non-covered” jobs. However, the formulas go too far and penalize workers with split careers who contributed a great deal to Social Security, but retire under their “non-covered” pensions. By significantly scaling back and reducing Social Security benefits for law enforcement officers and their survivors, as GPO and WEP do, officers and their families are provided much less protection against financial difficulties.
National Blue Alert Act: This legislation would help to create a nationwide alert system to quickly identify and apprehend suspects when a law enforcement officer is injured or killed in the line of duty. Creating a nationwide system that responds to criminal action against law enforcement officers will ensure the safety of the officers and the public they protect.
NAPO appreciated the opportunity to meet with each of the staffers, and we look forward to continuing to work with them in the future. If you have any questions about any of the bills summarized above, please contact Melissa Nee at: email@example.com.
NAPO Meeting on Capitol Hill – Congressman Neal’s Staff
On November 24, 2014, NAPO met with Congressman Richard Neal’s (D-MA) staff. In addition to discussing the bills listed above, NAPO discussed the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act of 2014 (H.R. 5697), which Congressman Neal introduced with Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX) on November 13, 2014. This legislation would repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), and correct Social Security benefits for public servants. The main tenets of the legislation are below:
- Permanently repeals the current WEP and replaces it with a new and fair formula that treats public servants like the rest of American workers
- Guarantees public servants receive the benefits they earned while they paid into Social Security
- Reduces the WEP by up to 1/3 for current retirees, and up to ½ for future retirees – increasing lifetime Social Security benefits by between $20,000 and $32,400 (as estimated by the Social Security actuary)
- Does not impact the Social Security trust fund
NAPO is currently reviewing this legislation, and will keep our members updated on the status of the bill. If you have any questions about the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act, please contact Melissa Nee at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
United States. Cong. House. Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act. 113th Cong., 2nd sess. H. Doc.Washington, D.C.: Congressman Kevin Brady, 2014. Print.
NAPO Participates in Comprehensive Law Enforcement Review Project Teleconference
NAPO is involved in a comprehensive law enforcement review project, which was initiated in response to a proposal, co-authored by NAPO, recommending a criminal justice review. The Attorney General requested the COPS Office to lead the project, with input from a diverse group of law enforcement stakeholders.
The goal of the project is to create a foundational document that provides an overview of key developments and challenges in American law enforcement, focusing on the last fifty years. On November 19, 2014, NAPO participated in the following teleconference to move the project forward:
- Technology in Policing: This week’s discussion focused on the management of technology.
NAPO is concerned over the direction the project has taken, as we feel that some of the discussions may be objectionable to our members. As we move forward, we will continue to strongly advocate that the rank-and-file perspective be included in the project review. NAPO will keep our members updated as the project moves forward.
If you have any questions about NAPO’s involvement in the criminal justice review project, please contact Bill Johnson at: email@example.com.
Help NAPO Generate TOP COPS® Nominations
It is that time of the year again! We are trying to gather as many quality TOP COPS® nominations as possible. With TOP COPS® again taking place in May, we are under very tight schedule constraints.
The 2015 ceremony will take place on Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in conjunction with National Police Week. The Awards Ceremony will be held at the JW Marriott Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C. The deadline for nominations is January 10, 2015.
Please take this opportunity to nominate a fellow officer. Please also feel free to include the nomination form in your association or department publication or e-mail the nomination form to friends and colleagues by downloading a PDF from our website, www.napo.org. (The form is also attached to the end of this report). Help us ensure that all states and territories are represented at the 22ndAnnual TOP COPS Awards® Ceremony. We appreciate any help you can provide.
If you should have any questions, please contact NAPO’s Director of Events, Elizabeth Loranger, at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.