NAPO in the News; NAPO Supports the Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act; Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act; NAPO Attends 2015 Annual Meeting of the Coalition to Preserve Retirement Security; NAPO Supports the Health Savings Act of 2015; House Passes Bill to Fully Fund Homeland Security; Senator Mikulski Will Not Seek ReelectionMarch 9, 2015
NAPO in the News: Task Force on 21st Century Policing
On December 18, 2014, President Obama signed an Executive Order to create the Task Force on 21st Century Policing. The Task Force released a report on March 2, 2015, with recommendations to help communities and law enforcement agencies across the country strengthen trust and collaboration, while continuing to reduce crime.
The Task Force made 63 recommendations after holding seven public hearings across the country. It is important to note that NAPO is the only police rank and file group in the nation to have a seat on the Commission itself. Our Treasurer, Sean Smoot, of the Illinois PB&PA, was appointed by the President to the Commission. Additionally, NAPO’s President, Mick McHale, and Executive Director, Bill Johnson, testified at numerous Task Force listening sessions.
NAPO has concerns with many of the Task Force’s recommendations. For example, the Task Force recommended external independent criminal investigations and review by outside prosecutors when police use force that results in death or anyone dies in police custody, instead of the internal investigations that are the policy of some law enforcement agencies. Johnson responded to this recommendation in articles published by ABC News and Associations Now by noting the following concern:
“An outside investigation of a police-involved shooting may make sense in limited circumstances when a police department has few resources. But in the vast majority of cases, it is unnecessary and perhaps even counterproductive…I think it helps to drive a wedge between a local police department and the community it serves — which is exactly contrary to what the intent of this police task force was supposed to be…I think it sends a message that your local police can't be trusted."
In articles published by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Havasu News, Johnson explained: “Some recommendations make sense, but many are already in place or have been put in motion by President Obama’s Department of Justice, including tying federal law enforcement aid to agencies that emphasize diverse hiring.”
In the same articles, Johnson voiced concerns about the lack of rank-and-file involvement in drafting recommendations by noting that he was not:
“Surprised by the report’s emphasis on (police) departments needing, in the task force’s view, to acknowledge their history of racism given that the commission included no rank-and-file police officers….‘You have academics, law school professors, chiefs of police, community organizers, but you don’t have any cops involved in writing the recommendations…It is kind of hard for me to hear some Yale professor talk about inclusion when they exclude rank-and-file cops.’”
(Please view the full articles by clicking on the publication links above).
The full Task Force report is available at the following link: http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/pdf/taskforce/Interim—TF—Report.pdf.
NAPO will continue to ensure our members’ voices are heard loud and clear as the Task Force’s recommendations are considered. If you have any questions about this report, please contact Bill Johnson at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Picker, Nedra. "Obama: 'Now S the Moment for Police to Make Changes'" ABC News. ABC News, 2 Mar. 2015. Web. 2 Mar. 2015. http%3A%2F%2Fabcnews.go.com%2FPolitics%2FwireStory%2Fobama-focus-civil-rights-struggles-past-present-29318433>.
NAPO in the News: Ensuring Elderly and Homebound Individuals Stay Safe
The Waterville Police Department in Maine is looking for older adults and others who may be homebound because of physical or medical issues to become part of a program that checks on them daily by phone. The “Are you OK?” program uses an automated phone system to call people in their homes as many times a day as they wish, at the times they prefer, and all they need to do is pick up the phone when it rings and hang it up, which lets police know they are OK.
NAPO’s Executive Director, Bill Johnson, provided comments on this program to the Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel:
“Such programs are becoming more common as law enforcement agencies reach out to the public to develop relationships, not only with elderly people and those who may have medical issues, but also to build trust with people in communities in general. Deepening the bond of trust between police officers and citizens can help both sides of the relationship…because when people see officers as human beings, they are more willing to turn to them when they have difficulties related to domestic violence, depression and other issues. Police are there to protect and serve and not just to make arrests and deal with violent situations.”
Johnson also explained that programs that check on people in their homes are important: “I think it’s a great idea and I think it helps to build and solidify ties and bridges with the community and police also.”
The full article is available at the following link: https://www.centralmaine.com/2015/03/06/waterville-plans-robo-calls-to-keep-elderly-shutins-safe/.
If you have any questions about NAPO’s position on this program, please contact Bill Johnson at: email@example.com.
NAPO Supports the Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act of 2015
Last week, Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Congressmen Dave Reichert (R-WA) and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) introduced legislation that will create a nationwide 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. Blue Alerts also could be issued when a suspect is wanted in connection with a law enforcement officer who has gone missing in connection with his or her official duties. Based on the success of the Amber Alerts for missing children, a nationwide Blue Alert system would be used to disseminate critical information to law enforcement agencies, the public, and the media.
Each day, more than 900,000 federal, state, and local law enforcement officers put their lives on the line to keep our communities safe. Tragically, sometimes the unthinkable happens and a police officer is seriously injured, killed, or goes missing in the line of duty. In such instances, the rapid dissemination of important critical, time-sensitive information about suspected criminals is essential to keeping our communities safe.
The Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act of 2015 is named in honor of two New York City Police Officers, and NAPO members, who were assassinated while sitting in their police patrol car in December 2014.
NAPO has worked closely with Senator Cardin, Senator Grassley, Congressman Reichert, and Congressman Pascrell to reintroduce this important legislation. (Similar legislation has been introduced in previous Congresses, passing the House and the Senate Judiciary Committee with strong bipartisan support). Senator Cardin, Congressman Reichert, and Congressman Pascrell highlighted NAPO as a supporter of the bill in their press releases. Additionally, Senator Cardin noted that NAPO is a strong supporter of the bill in his floor statement to introduce the legislation.
NAPO’s letters of support are attached to this report for your convenience and review. We look forward to working with fellow stakeholders to pass this important legislation during the 114th Congress.
If you have any questions about this legislation, please contact Melissa Nee at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Ben Cardin - Senator for Maryland." Senator Cardin. N.p., 4 Mar. 2015. Web. 4 Mar. 2015.<http://www.cardin.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/cardin-graham-introduce-bill-to-create-a-national-blue-alert-system-to-protect-the-public-and-help-apprehend-criminals-who-harm-or-threaten-law-enforcement-officers>.
Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act
On February 26, 2015, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee without opposition. The legislation will be reviewed by the Senate this week.
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 has worked closely with the bill’s sponsor, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), and fellow stakeholders to garner support for this legislation. Most recently, NAPO participated in a conference call on the bill with Senator Cornyn’s staff and other stakeholders on March 6, 2015.
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. If you have any questions about the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, please contact Melissa Nee at: email@example.com.
NAPO Attends 2015 Annual Meeting of the Coalition to Preserve Retirement Security
NAPO attended the annual meeting of the Coalition to Preserve Retirement Security (CPRS) on March 2, 2015. Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX) opened the meeting by providing background on the Equal Treatment for Public Servants Act, which NAPO supports. This legislation would repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), and correct Social Security benefits for public servants. The main tenets of the legislation are as follows:
- 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
The loss of income caused by the WEP formula is a financial strain on law enforcement officers and their families, an additional strain that those who spent their careers on the front lines protecting our nation’s communities do not need. This bill will guarantee public servants receive the benefits they earned while they paid into Social Security.
NAPO’s Executive Director Bill Johnson serves as the elected National Law Enforcement representative to the CPRS Board of Directors and NAPO looks forward to working with Congressman Brady to pass this bill during the 114th Congress.
Additionally, the group discussed the consequences of mandatory Social Security coverage. NAPO supports a long-term solution to Social Security, so long as such a solution does not mandate that all or some state and local government employees, including newly hired ones and their employing agencies, be required to pay Social Security taxes. Adding presently non-covered public safety workers will not fix the basic problems of Social Security. While it will bring new workers into the Social Security system, the system will also have to assume a liability for these new workers, which will eventually have to be paid.
Moreover, even if Social Security taxes were limited to new hires, the likely consequences of mandatory Social Security taxes, including reduced benefits, lower salaries, or frozen cost-of-living increases, would make law enforcement and fire safety work less financially desirable.
NAPO plans to continue to work with members of CPRS to educate members of Congress and their staff on the negative consequences of mandatory Social Security coverage.
If you have any questions about the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act or efforts to fight mandatory Social Security coverage, 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 Supports the Health Savings Act of 2015
Last week, NAPO pledged our support for the Health Savings Act of 2015, sponsored by Congressman Michael Burgess (R-TX). (NAPO’s letter of support is attached to this bill for your convenience and review).
The bill would expand the use of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), which allow Americans to put aside money for themselves and their children to help mitigate the rising cost of deductibles and out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. Current law only allows HSAs to be purchased for certain health insurance plans, and contributions are restricted to levels that are often substantially lower than deductibles. The Health Savings Act of 2015 would ensure HSAs may be used more broadly, thereby increasing patient choice in how their healthcare dollars are spent.
In addition to making HSAs more accessible, the bill would allow parents to set up an HSA for their child, while allowing the contributor to claim an after-tax deduction. Further, the bill would raise the contribution limit to match the maximum out-of-pocket limit. Finally, the Health Savings Act would provide bankruptcy protections to HSAs in the same way retirement accounts are currently protected.
NAPO has discussed this bill at length with senior staffers for Congressman Burgess. We will continue to stay engaged with his staff as we work to garner support for this bill.
NAPO will keep our members updated on the status of this legislation. If you have any questions about this bill, please contact Melissa Nee at: email@example.com.
House Passes Bill to Fully Fund Homeland Security
The House passed a bill March 3, 2015 to fully fund the Department of Homeland Security for the rest of the fiscal year. The measure, which has also cleared the Senate, will not target Obama's executive actions on immigration. The bill passed 257-167, with some Republicans joining Democrats in the vote.
If you have any questions about this vote, please contact Melissa Nee at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sullivan, Sean. "House Passes Bill to Fully Fund Homeland Security." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 03 Mar. 2015. Web. 03 Mar. 2015. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2015/03/03/house-to-vote-on-new-bill-to-fully-fund-homeland-security/?wpisrc=al_alert>.
Senator Mikulski Will Not Seek Reelection
On March 2, 2015, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) announced that she would not seek reelection next year. Senator Mikulski was first elected to the House in 1976, and ten years later, she was elected to the Senate.
Senator Mikulski is the Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Ranking Member on the Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies. NAPO will continue to stay engaged with Senator Mikulski and her staff as the Appropriations process moves forward to ensure our top priority grant programs receive robust funding.
If you have any questions about NAPO’s interactions with Senator Mikulski’s office, please contact Melissa Nee at: email@example.com.
Naylor, Brian. "Sen. Mikulski, Groundbreaker For Female Legislators, Won't Seek Re-Election." NPR. NPR, 02 Mar. 2015. Web. 02 Mar. 2015. <http://www.npr.org/2015/03/02/390245024/sen-mikulski-ground-breaker-for-women-legislators-wont-seek-reelection>.