Statement from NAPO President Mick McHale on the President’s Executive Order on Police ReformMay 25, 2022
Alexandria, VA – The National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) has been communicating to the Administration our concerns and recommendations for executive actions on policing reforms for the past several months. We have remained focused on our priorities of preserving officer rights and due process and ensuring any policies enacted in the Executive Order protect the ability of officers to safeguard themselves and the lives of the citizens they serve. With the President issuing his Executive Order on Advancing Effective, Accountable Policing and Criminal Justice Practices to Enhance Public Trust and Public Safety today, we note that the Administration took into consideration some of our recommendations and concerns but did not address others of significant interest.
The Executive Order does not recommend Congress take action to eliminate qualified immunity for officers, which is of utmost importance to NAPO as this legal protection for officers is essential. In establishing body-worn camera policies, it allows officers to review their body-worn camera footage prior to completing required reports, statements, or interviews regarding the recording. This is in line with the long-held best practices established by the Department of Justice and mirrors laws many states have enacted on the issue and will ensure the most accurate reporting of incidents.
However, there is a lack of meaningful due process for officers laid out in the Executive Order, particularly regarding the National Law Enforcement Accountability Database established under the Order. While it purports to provide due process protections for officers, the Order leaves it up to the Attorney General to determine appropriate procedures to ensure officers’ voices are heard and have proper notice and access to records. It does not specify what these procedures are or when they will occur. We continue to strongly advocate for robust due process procedures to be put in place and occur prior to officer records being uploaded into the national database. It is too late for an officer’s reputation if their only chance to contest, amend, or remove factually inaccurate information is after it is uploaded into the database.
We also continue to have concerns with restrictions the Executive Order puts in place to programs like the Department of Defense’s 1033 Program, which have proven to be vital in allowing state and local law enforcement to acquire items needed for search and rescue operations, disaster response, and active shooter situations that they otherwise would not be able to afford.
Much of the details of the provisions of the Executive Order rely on the Attorney General to implement, in consultation with stakeholders, so it is yet to be seen what the full impact of the Order will have on state and local law enforcement. This includes whether agencies will be penalized by withholding much needed grant funding at a time when the nation is experiencing soaring violent crime rates and agencies are struggling to hire and retain qualified officers. We are concerned that the Executive Order will set up a situation where the Department of Justice will be managing the hiring, training, deployment, and policy for every state and local agency without allowing for differences to meet local needs and without the resources necessary to implement the significant changes being required.
We will continue to engage in a robust discussion with the Administration of our concerns with the Order and will work to ensure the voices of rank-and-file officers are heard as it is being implemented.
NAPO is a coalition of police units and associations from across the United States that serves to advance the interests of America’s law enforcement through legislative and legal advocacy, political action, and education. Founded in 1978, NAPO now represents more than 1,000 police units and associations and over 241,000 law enforcement officers who share a common dedication to fair and effective crime control and law enforcement.