NAPO Participates in Stakeholder Meeting on Implementation of Police Reform Executive Order; NAPO Submits Comments on Draft National Accreditation Standards;DOJ Announces FY 23 Body-Worn Camera Program Grant Solicitations Now Available; NAPO on the Hill: NAPO Priorities for the 118th Congress; Senate Version of Thin Blue Line Act Reintroduced; NAPO’s 2023 Lobby Day Legislative Breakfast & Legislative Awards Luncheon;February 24, 2023
NAPO Participates in Stakeholder Meeting on Implementation of Police Reform Executive Order
On February 14, NAPO participated in a stakeholder meeting with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which serves as the chief human resources agency and personnel policy manager for the federal government, and other national federal, state and local law enforcement representatives for an initial discussion on Section 3 of the President’s Executive Order on police reform. Section 3 covers officer recruitment, hiring, promotions and retention.
The objective of this meeting was for OPM to consult with law enforcement stakeholders to assess existing policies and identify and share best practices in order to outline the steps needed to achieve the identified goals of Section 3 of the Executive Order: (1) recruitment and hiring; (2) promotion and retention; (3) assessment of the officer’s adherence to agency policies during performance evaluations and promotion decisions; and (4) conducting background investigations and implementing properly validated selection procedures.
This discussion was focused on the recruitment, hiring, promotion and retention of federal law enforcement officers, which is the first part of Section 3. The second part requires the Attorney General to develop best practices for state, local and tribal law enforcement based on the federal best practices established under the Order. OPM was looking to gleam from participants current best practices being used at the state and local level for each of the four goals mentioned above.
NAPO deferred to our federal partner, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), as to the current needs of the federal law enforcement workforce and reinforced the need for OPM and agency heads to involve rank-and-file officers and their representative unions or associations in developing best practices around recruitment, retention and assessments. We also spoke to legislation NAPO supports, the Law Enforcement Officers Equity Act, which would ensure all federal law enforcement officers, no matter what their classification, receive the same enhanced retirement benefits, which would greatly help with the retention issues federal police forces are experiencing.
The meeting also included a discussion around officer training as it relates to assessments. We made the point that training must be continual and used to assist officers to achieve positive assessments, whether it be retraining on laws, agency policies, or responses to incidents. Continual training reinforces an agency’s investment in its officers.
This is just the first of several stakeholder discussions on Section 3 and we look forward to our continued participation in the implementation of this section and the rest of the Executive Order.
NAPO Submits Comments on Draft
National Accreditation Standards
On January 18, NAPO participated in a question-and-answer session hosted by the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) regarding draft national accreditation standards, as required by Section 19 of the President’s Executive Order on police reform. The COPS Office has been tasked with developing the standards independent credentialing bodies must consider, as well as standards they should consider, when accrediting law enforcement agencies. A law enforcement agency accredited under different criteria will not be considered accredited by the DOJ.
As part of the stakeholder consultation requirement of the Executive Order, the COPS Office shared initial draft accreditation standards with NAPO and we were asked to submit formal comments, feedback, and recommendations on the standards. The Executive Order is fairly prescriptive with what the accreditation standards must include so there is little wiggle room for what should or should not be considered by accrediting agencies. Where we can make a difference is in how the specific standards are written, implemented, and evaluated.
The Executive Order states that the national credentialing standards must further the policies laid out in sections 3 (Hiring, Recruitment, and Retention), 4 (Supporting Office Wellness), 7 (Banning Chokeholds and Carotid Restraints), 8 (Use of Force Standards), 9 (Anti-Bias Training and Guidance), and 10 (Restricting No-Knock Entries). While these issues make up the bulk of the required draft standards agencies must meet to be accredited, there are many extraneous standards included in the draft that a credentialing body should consider when accrediting a law enforcement agency. These additional standards are not mandated by the Executive Order.
In the official comments on the draft standards that we submitted, we underscored the issues where the guidelines deviate from current legal doctrine and standards and infringed upon officer rights, including possibly their collective bargaining rights, and areas where the guidelines may be difficult to implement. We also reiterated many of our concerns with the Executive Order that were reflected in the required draft standards.
We appreciate the ability to be a part of this process and to provide our input on national accrediting standards to the COPS Office. NAPO takes our seat at the table very seriously and we will continue to work with the Administration to ensure officers rights and safety are protected as the various aspects of the Order gets implemented.
DOJ Announces FY 23 Body-Worn Camera Program Grant Solicitations Now Available
FY 2023 Body-Worn Camera Policy and Implementation Program to Support Law Enforcement Agencies: Through this program, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) is seeking applications for funding law enforcement agencies seeking to purchase body-worn cameras (BWCs) to establish or expand comprehensive body-worn camera programs with a specific and demonstrated plan to implement this technology to maximize the benefits of BWCs.
FY 2023 Supporting Small, Rural, and Tribal Law Enforcement Agency Body-Worn Camera Policy and Implementation Program: Through this opportunity, BJA seeks applications for funding an organization to administer a competitive microgrant program to small, rural, and tribal law enforcement agencies seeking to initiate or expand a body-worn camera program. The organization will also provide customized training and technical assistance to the micrograntees.
NAPO on the Hill: NAPO Priorities for the 118th Congress
NAPO had meetings with the staff of Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) to discuss our priorities for the Committee for the 118th Congress. We discussed the need for legislation to enhance officer safety by increasing penalties for the murder, attempted murder, or assault of federal, state, and local law enforcement officers, the LEOSA Reform Act, legislation to aid state and local agencies hire and retain qualified officers, and the necessity of a bill to repeal the restrictions the President’s Executive Order on police reform places on law enforcement’s access to surplus military equipment, amongst other issues.
Increased penalties for the murder, attempted murder, or assault of a federal, state or local law enforcement officer because of their status as a public safety officer will deter such crimes and bring greater protections to officers and the communities they serve. NAPO is backing three bills that would provide increased penalties for such violent crimes against officers – the Back the Blue Act, the Protect and Serve Act, and the Thin Blue Line Act.
The LEOSA Reform Act would ensure the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) is more fairly and broadly implemented. The bill would expand the areas qualified current or retired officers are allowed to carry a firearm, including on a Gun Free School Zone; on state, local and private property otherwise open to the public; and in certain federal facilities. It will allow qualified officers and retired officers to carry an ammunition magazine of any capacity that is not prohibited by federal law. Importantly, it will reform qualifications standards to alleviate undue burdens for those carrying under LEOSA.
The Recruit and Retain Act would boost recruitment opportunities for state and local law enforcement agencies by expanding the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Program to help agencies that are both understaffed and struggling to attract new applicants. It would also create a new program to encourage partnerships between schools and police departments to foster a stronger local pipeline for law enforcement careers.
The Invest to Protect Act would create a broad grant program through the Department of Justice (DOJ) specifically for small state, local or tribal law enforcement agencies that will give them resources to train their officers, provide mental health resources for their officers, and retain and hire officers. A small agency is defined as one that employs 125 sworn law enforcement officers or less.
The COPS on the Beat Grant Program Reauthorization and Parity Act would reauthorize the COPS Grant program, expands the grant program to allow rural, low-income communities to use COPS Hiring Program (CHP) grant funding to increase law enforcement wages, and removes the preference for agencies that can afford a higher match than required. The bill would also provide for a lower match for qualifying lower-income rural communities that gradually increases over time to ensure these departments can participate in the CHP grant program.
The Lifesaving Gear for Police Act would overturn the section of the President’s Executive Order that puts back in place and enhances President Obama’s Executive Order restricting state and local law enforcement’s access to surplus military equipment through programs as the Department of Defense’s 1033 Program and the FEMA’s Urban Area Security Initiative and State Homeland Security Grant Program. It would prohibit the President from implementing the restrictions and require the Administration to return equipment that it has recalled – at no expense to state and local law enforcement agencies.
Both Ranking Member Graham’s staff and Speaker McCarthy’s staff indicated support and interest in these bills and promised they would work closely with us in our efforts to move our priority legislation forward. We still have plenty of work to do, including getting all our priority bills reintroduced and continuing to reach out to Senators and Representatives to ask them to cosponsor these important bills and support our priorities this Congress.
NAPO also met with Congressman Bill Pascrell’s (D-NJ) staff to discuss our priorities for this Congress and Congressman Andrew Garbarino’s (R-NY) staff to discuss our priorities as well as the reintroduction of the Postal Police Reform Act, which would reinstate Postal Police’s jurisdictional authority that has been sharply curtailed over the past several years.
Senate Version of Thin Blue Line Act Reintroduced
NAPO priority legislation, the Thin Blue Line Act, was reintroduced in the Senate as S. 459 by Senators Mike Braun (R-IN) and John Kennedy (R-LA). They were joined by original cosponsors Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Ron Johnson (R-WI.), Marco Rubio (R-FL), James Lankford (R-OK), Eric Schmitt (R-MO), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and John Hoeven (R-ND). This important bill would increase penalties on those who harm or target for harm public safety officers by making the murder or attempted murder of a local police officer, firefighter, or first responder an aggravating factor in death penalty determinations in federal court. This would be applicable whether they were targeted or murdered on duty, because of the performance of their duty, or because of their status as a public official. The only requirement is that the homicide provide federal jurisdiction.
This bill is critical, as law enforcement officer assaults, injuries, and deaths have increased sharply in recent years. According to a May 2022 report from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), 346 officers were shot in the line of duty in 2021, of which 64 officers died from their injuries and 287 survived. 133 of those officers were shot and 32 died in ambushes or premeditated, calculated assaults. Establishing stricter penalties for those who harm or target for harm law enforcement officers will deter violent crime. Any persons contemplating harming an officer must know that they will face serious punishments. NAPO strongly believes that increased penalties make important differences in the attitudes of criminals toward public safety officers and ensure protection for the community.
The House version, H.R. 130, was reintroduced in January by Congressman Vern Buchanan (R-FL).
NAPO looks forward to working with Senators Braun and Kennedy and Congressman Buchanan to move this important legislation this Congress.
NAPO’s 2023 Lobby Day
Legislative Breakfast & Legislative Awards Luncheon
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to join NAPO on Thursday, May 11 for our Lobby Day & Legislative Awards Luncheon on Capitol Hill. This is a great opportunity to lobby Congressional Representatives and Senators on behalf of your members concerning the issues which affect law enforcement. Prior to lobbying Capitol Hill, plan to attend NAPO’s Legislative Breakfast for an update on NAPO's legislative priorities, results to date from the 118th Congress and to receive handouts to use during Hill visits.
While on Capitol Hill be sure to stop by NAPO’s Legislative Awards Luncheon, which is back after a three year hiatus, where several Representatives, Senators, and their staff will be recognized for their continued support of Law Enforcement.
Schedule of Events
For assistance in setting up Capitol Hill appointments, please contact Andy Edmiston, NAPO’s Director of Governmental Affairs, no later than May 1 at firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 549-0774.
The registration fee of $150.00 per person includes the Legislative Update Breakfast, handouts for your Congressional visits and the Legislative Awards Luncheon. Advanced Registration is required. Please contact Elizabeth Loranger, NAPO’s Director of Events, at (800) 322-6278 or email@example.com if you have any questions regarding registration or hotel arrangements.