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FLEOA Supports USPP in House Committee Hearing

June 29, 2020 

 

Honorable Raul M. Grijalva
Chairman, Natural Resources Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
1324 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515 

Honorable Rob Bishop
Ranking Member, Natural Resources Committee 
U.S. House of Representatives
1324 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515  

 
Chairman Grijalva and Ranking Member Bishop, 

We are writing to you concerning the oversight hearing entitled The U.S. Park Police Attack on Peaceful Protesters at Lafayette Square. While oversight of federal agencies is in the purview of Congress, given to it by the Framers of our government in the Constitution, it would seem the hearing, including its title, appears to lack context. It also does not show any attention, concern, or consideration of the level of violence inflicted upon U.S. Park Police Officers over the course of many strenuous days of violent civil disobedience.

FLEOA is the nation's largest non-partisan, not for profit association representing federal law enforcement officers, including officers from the United States Park Police. Representing members from over 65 federal law enforcement agencies gives FLEOA a unique perspective and expertise on a wide range of federal law enforcement issues. FLEOA wanted to first, express our strong support for the United States Park Police and its officers, who have faced budget and staffing shortfalls for years, but take to the streets of Washington D.C., New York City and San Francisco every day to keep our national treasurers, our fellow citizens, and our nation safe.

Over the last few weeks, we have watched federal law enforcement officers become the bulwark against rioters, looters and anarchists. While otherwise peaceful protests were co- opted by radical groups focused on destruction vs. dialogue, federal law enforcement officers were thrust into roles of protecting and preserving the safety of not only city streets, but also our nation's monuments and our history that we all hold dear. While some chose to focus on showing videos of only the law enforcement response, there are countless other videos of these rioters and anarchists attacking law enforcement officers.

No clearer was that role than here in Washington D.C., where Lafayette Park was besieged by radical and violent groups and individuals. These are the same individuals that set fire to and vandalized St. John's Church, attacked and vandalized monuments in and around our nation's capital— including the World War II memorial, a tribute to an entire generation of Americans that kept our world free-- and then attacked the very law enforcement officers that were originally sent there to monitor and ensure the safety of the individuals peaceably assembled. Much of this work fell to the officers of the U.S. Park Police. These brave men and women came under daily—almost hourly—attack from unpeaceful and violent rioters, and were consistently pelted with frozen bottles of urine, fireworks, bricks, stones, street pavers, and all manner of other unknown substances. Other federal law enforcement officers including the Uniformed Division of the Secret Service, various DOJ entities and officers from the Metropolitan Police Department joined the U.S. Park Police at times to try and quell the violence, stop the destruction, and allow the voices of the peaceful protesters to be heard.

While an examination of the nature of the response during these violent riots is fully within the proper purview of the Committee’s oversight role, this hearing lacks the appropriate balance. Such a balance should also require the Committee to look into what laws may have been violated, the overall conduct of non-peaceful protestors at the time of the incident, the ratio of officers to protesters, the number of arrests made, the numbers of injuries sustained by both protesters and officers, and the agency policies in place at the time. We'd also request that instead of a personal testimonial driven hearing that the Committee, using its oversight power, conduct a hearing based on factual information gathered from an ongoing investigation by the US Park Police Internal Affairs and Department of Interior Office of Inspector General that is yet to report its factual findings. Without that, the hearing is akin to a trial based on testimony without any verification of the veracity of that testimony.

FLEOA supports the role of Congress to conduct oversight and welcomes a conversation about ensuring that all laws are followed. We also recognize that law enforcement officers have recently been painted with a broad brush, and that some elected officials and others are perpetuating a false narrative that seems to cast all law enforcement in the most negative light possible. These attacks and the persistent vilification of the brave men and women who serve our communities, putting their own lives on the line to protect and serve their communities, will serve no other purpose than to deter good men and women from joining our ranks. That does not serve the administration of justice, the rule of law, or public safety. We know that there is a better path, one that avoids sound bite politics for an open and honest discussion that takes into consideration the facts and the full context of this incident. We hope the Committee does just that.


Sincerely, 

Larry Cosme

National President


cc: House Natural Resources Committee