By Meredith Mays, Legislative Representative, IACP
n November 15, the IACP held a national call-in day for members to contact their senators regarding S. 2123, the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2007. The legislation, which would reduce the effectiveness of the nation’s police agencies, is strongly opposed by the IACP. The call-in day was held in conjunction with other state, tribal, and local organizations such as the National Sheriffs’ Association, the National League of Cities, and the National Association of Counties (NACo).
Briefly, S. 2123 would effectively federalize state and local government labor-management relations and deprive state and local governments of the necessary flexibility to manage their public safety operations in a manner that they choose. By mandating a “one-size-fits-all” approach to labor-management relations, S. 2123 ignores the fact that every jurisdiction has unique needs and therefore requires the freedom to manage its public safety workforce in the manner it has determined to be the most effective.
The IACP wishes to thank all who contacted their elected representatives on this issue and urges members to continue to reach out to their senators. The Legislative Action Center (LAC) will remain active and can be accessed through the IACP Web site (www.theiacp.org).1
Congress Continues Appropriations Work
Before Congress adjourned for its December recess, the House and Senate continued to work on appropriations legislation.
Both the House and Senate have passed the two appropriations bills of particular interest to the law enforcement community—the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations, which fund the Department of Homeland Security, and Commerce-Justice-Science and Related Agencies (C-J-S) appropriations, which fund the Department of Justice—and the two bills are now in conference, where both houses of Congress will work out their differences and produce a final bill.
The table below highlights the proposed funding levels for various critical programs (values in millions of dollars).
|Proposed Funding Levels for Critical Programs (values in millions of dollars)|
These numbers are much higher than those included in the administration’s proposed budget, released in February. They also represent a significant increase from previous years’ approved levels.
It is possible that Congress could also pass an omnibus bill—where all appropriations bills are wrapped into one package to be signed by the president. It is also possible that Congress could pass a continuing resolution—where programs are funded at the lowest current levels. A continuing resolution is a stopgap funding measure passed for a short period of time to give lawmakers additional time to work on a final measure.
As conference work progresses, the IACP will continue to work closely with members of Congress to ensure that the needs of the law enforcement community are met in fiscal year 2008.
IACP Support of Section 202 of the FISA Amendments Act of 2007
IACP president Ronald C. Ruecker recently sent a letter to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, expressing support of Section 202 of the FISA Amendments Act of 2007. This section of the legislation is of particular importance to the law enforcement community because it significantly affects the vital cooperative relationship between government and the private sector necessary to promote and protect public safety.
At this critical time in history, when federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement agencies are striving to protect the public from terrorists, sophisticated international gangs, online predators, and other violent criminals, it is extremely important that law enforcement agencies be able to rely on the private sector for much-needed assistance.
Section 202 provides relief from litigation for the telecommunications companies that responded to the government’s request for assistance following the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001. As President Ruecker stated, “It is my belief that failure to adopt this provision could jeopardize the cooperation of vital allies in our ongoing fight against crime and terrorism. Businesses often feel compelled to avoid the risk of litigation by declining to cooperate with law enforcement even though they have every reason to believe the request is lawful.”
President Ruecker continued, “Police chiefs understand the vital role that private businesses often play in emergency situations and criminal investigations, and we are concerned that if these companies are faced with the threat of litigation for responding in these circumstances, it will have a chilling effect on their voluntary cooperation with law enforcement authorities in the future.”
The FISA Amendments Act was recently passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee and must now be considered bt the full Senate. ¦
1Readers may also access the LAC page directly by visiting http://capwiz.com/theiacp/callalert/index.tt?alertid=10539096&type=CO