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2021 FLEOA Police Week Wrap Up

Dear FLEOA Members, 

Like last year, National Police Week was subject to COVID-19 protocols barring all the normal in-person events. However, FLEOA was honored to play a part in helping the nation honor our fallen law enforcement heroes and help move important pieces of legislation. In addition to supporting virtual events, such as the annual Candlelight Vigil and the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service, FLEOA played a key role in advancing our policy priorities on Capitol Hill.  

Although the House of Representatives opted not to consider any pro-law enforcement legislation to recognize Police Week, the Senate demonstrated continued bipartisan support of America’s law enforcement heroes by passing a Police Week resolution by unanimous consent. The Senate Judiciary Committee also acted yesterday to advance the "Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila Federal Officers and Employees Protection Act.” The Senate version of the LEOSA Reform bill was introduced which is a companion to the House version. We also worked to secure the introduction of additional legislative priorities in both the House and Senate, such as our gun buyback bill, the "Back the Blue" bill and the "Protect and Serve Act.”  

The Senate passed a Police Week Resolution, which was sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee and Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), the Chairman of the Committee. Senate Resolution 215, which designates the week of May 9 through May 15, 2021, as "National Police Week," had 78 Senate co-sponsors. The resolution expressed the Senate’s appreciation to the nation’s federal, state, and local law enforcement officers and lists the names of the fallen officers honored by the NLEOMF this year.  

We were also excited to announce that the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the "Jamie Zapata and Victor Avila Federal Officers and Employees Protection Act.” This FLEOA priority closes a loophole created by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2020 when it vacated the murder convictions of the cartel members that attacked former HSI Agents Zapata and Avila, killing Zapata and seriously wounding Avila. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) led the legislative effort to close the loophole and rallied wide bipartisan support for the bill. FLEOA also advocated for DHS and the State Department to support the bill and ultimately got the Biden Administration to weigh in with support of the bill. Our press release can be found here (https://www.fleoa.org/news-story.aspx?id=9979)

The Committee also unanimously passed S. 1502, the COPS Counseling Act, led by Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Sen. Grassley. This bill was helped structured and written by FLEOA Director of Mental Health, Dr. Jean Kanokogi and would establish formal structures for ensuring the confidentiality of peer support and counseling services in federal law enforcement agencies. Since law enforcement is facing a mental health crisis, this bill was overdue.

S. 1511, the Protecting America’s First Responders Act was also unanimously passed by the Judiciary Committee yesterday. This bill was sponsored by Sen. Grassley and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and would enact several needed reforms to the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) Program to aid in the delivery of benefits to disabled officers and the families of our fallen heroes. Of particular interest, the bill helps to bring the standard for disability benefits for officers injured in the line of duty, including those suffering from 9/11-related health conditions, more in line with standard disability programs. 

Finally, FLEOA also helped to secure the introduction of multiple bills important to the federal, state, and local law enforcement community.  

This includes the previously mentioned S. 1610, the Senate version of the LEOSA Reform Act, sponsored by Sen. John Kennedy (R- LA) with Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) as co-sponsors. It is a companion bill to the House LEOSA Reform Act sponsored by Rep Don Bacon (R-NE) and Rep Henry Cuellar (D-TX) which would clarify and include in the federal statute all aspects of LEOSA that were originally intended by Congress. This will also help ensure that no state can read into the LEOSA statue and interpret it with limitations that Congress never intended it to have.
 
H.R. 3096 was also introduced by Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) and Rep. Don Bacon and would allow active federal law enforcement officers to purchase retired service weapons. This is another bill that FLEOA helped to draft and, if enacted, would allow active federal law enforcement officers the option of purchasing service weapons slated for destruction. Our letter of support can be found here (https://www.fleoa.org/news-story.aspx?id=9977) and we are working towards a Senate companion version.
 
We also had other FLEOA-supported legislation introduced during Police Week including:
 

H.R. 3060, the "Putting First Responders First Act,” introduced by Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC);
H.R. 3071, the "Public Safety Officer Support Act,” introduced by Rep. David Trone (D-MD);
H.R. 3079, the "Protect and Serve Act,” introduced by Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL);
H.R. 3080 & S. 1599, the "Back the Blue Act,” introduced by Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX);
S. 1595, the "Thin Blue Line Act,” introduced by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA); andS. 1597, the "Lifesaving Gear for Police Act,” introduced by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA).
S. 1649, a bill to to grant probation officers authority to arrest hostile third parties who obstruct or impede a probation officer in the performance of official duties, introduced by Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC)

 


Although none of these bills actually passed through the full Congress, a break with tradition, the above pieces of legislation were moved and positioned to potentially be advanced later this year. We are appreciative of the respective sponsors of these bills for their support and continued work advancing bills of important to our members and the law enforcement community.

While we pause this week, and specifically tomorrow on Peace Officers Memorial Day, to remember the fallen and the families left behind, let us also remember that the law enforcement profession is a noble one - one that asks much of those who voluntarily take the oath, including potentially giving up your life for the sake of others. Although this current environment is filled with detractors and those that attack the profession, those attacks are muted by the thousands of acts, big and small, of heroism that are performed by federal, state, local and tribal officers across America everyday. 
 
Stay Safe,
 
Larry

Larry Cosme
National President
Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association





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