By Meredith Ward, Manager, Legislative and Media Affairs, IACP
|Wildlife Officer Michael Neal, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, speaks at the officer safety briefing in March in Alexandria, Virginia.|
n late March, the IACP held its biennial Day on the Hill in Washington, D.C. Held in conjunction with the midyear meetings of both the Division of State and Provincial Police (S&P) and the Division of State Associations of Chiefs of Police (SACOP), the Day on the Hill gave IACP members the opportunity to meet with their elected officials on issues of importance to the law enforcement community.
In meetings with members of Congress and their staffs, IACP members called for the creation of a commission to study the criminal justice system; an end to budget cuts for state, tribal, and local law enforcement; and full funding restoration to various programs. IACP members also discussed terrorism prevention, illegal firearms sales, illegal narcotics, highway safety, and forensics.
The same day, the IACP held a briefing on officer safety, which was sponsored by U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) and U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), who are cochairs of the House of Representatives Law Enforcement Caucus. Law enforcement deaths, especially ambush and unprovoked attacks, are on the rise. And, for the first time in nearly 15 years, in 2011, felonious deaths by gunfire outnumber traffic crashes as the number one cause of officer deaths. At the briefing, the IACP leadership pledged to continue to fight these trends.
IACP President Walter McNeil spoke at the briefing about one of his presidential priorities: Law enforcement having a good relationship with the corrections community and vice versa. President McNeil pointed out that 28 percent of all offenders who killed a law enforcement officer were on probation or parole for the period of 2001–2010.
“Law enforcement and correctional agencies share a common goal: Public safety through crime reduction,” said President McNeil. “Each pursues this goal from a different perspective: Law enforcement seeks to maintain order while correctional agencies seek to rehabilitate. The two must share actionable intelligence on offenders in their communities.”
IACP S&P General Chair Chief John Batiste shared his personal experiences and also discussed the work that the S&P is doing to reduce officer deaths and injuries on U.S. highways. For the past 14 years, traffic crashes were the number one killer of U.S. law enforcement officers. A total of 42 percent of officers killed in traffic crashes were not wearing seat belts, according to figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Last year, the IACP passed a resolution urging departments to adopt mandatory seat belt use policies.
IACP SACOP Vice General Chair and Chair of the IACP SafeShield Committee Chief Peter Carnes also spoke of the important work SafeShield is doing as it serves as the umbrella officer safety initiative within the IACP and works to coordinate efforts across the association. Chief Carnes shared the alarming statistic that nearly 40 percent of all law enforcement officers feloniously killed between 2000 and 2009 were not wearing body armor, according to FBI Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted reports. This is even more alarming when one considers that not all departments have a mandatory vest wear policy. The IACP also passed a resolution in 2011 urging departments to adopt mandatory body armor wear policies.
Finally, the IACP and Alcatel-Lucent 2011 Domestic Police Officer of the Year, Michael K. Neal, a wildlife officer with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, spoke at the briefing about his experiences on the job. In May, 2010, Officer Neal learned that two West Memphis, Arkansas, police officers had been shot dead while making a routine traffic stop. Officer Neal raced to the area where the suspects were engaged in a gunfight with two other officers. Officer Neal rammed his truck into the suspect’s van and returned fire. The suspects died on the scene. More information about Officer Neal’s story is available in “The IACP and Alcatel-Lucent Present International and Domestic Police Officer of the Year Awards,” The Police Chief 78 (December 2011): 86–87, http://www.policechiefmagazine.org/magazine/index.cfm?fuseaction=display&article_id=2555&issue_id=122011 (accessed April 10, 2012).
Officer Neal spoke about the dangers of ambush-style attacks facing law enforcement today. Before the incident, Officer Neal kept his vest in the back of his truck and wore it often. Neal told the audience at the briefing that he now never goes a day without wearing his vest.
Thank you to all who participated in the Day on the Hill. The briefing documents used at the Day on the Hill are available on the IACP website: http://www.theiacp.org/doth. ■
Please cite as:
Meredith Ward, "2012 Day on the Hill: A Great Success," Legislative Alert, The Police Chief 79 (May 2012): 8.