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As the Senate adjourns for a two week recess July 3, police reform legislation hangs in the balance. On June 24, Democrats in the Senate blocked the motion to proceed on Senator Tim Scott’s (R-SC) police reform legislation, the Just and Unifying Solutions To Invigorate Communities Everywhere (JUSTICE) Act (S. 3985), essentially filibustering the bill. Democrats do not feel the JUSTICE Act goes far enough and want Republicans to negotiate a bipartisan solution for the Senate to vote on. Majority Leader McConnell reserved the right to call up the bill for a vote at any point if progress is made. The House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (H.R. 7120) June 25 by a vote of 236-181, with only three Republicans joining Democrats in voting for the bill. NAPO sent a letter to all Members of Congress voicing strong opposition to the bill. The Senate is not expected to move on the House-passed bill and the President has issued a statement saying he will veto it; NAPO is opposing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal 2021. Amendment #2252 would restrict state and local law enforcement’s access to surplus military equipment through the Department of Defense and other federal grant programs. NAPO spoke with staff of Senate leadership and sent a letter to every member of the Senate advising them of our strong opposition to any attempt to amend NDAA to limit our access to this life saving equipment. The Senate is scheduled to bring the amendment up for unanimous consent when it returns July 20; NAPO pledged support for the Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act (S. 4051) which would bolster national security and end the use of warrant-proof encryption that shields criminal activity from law enforcement. Attorney General William Barr issued a rare statement of support for the legislation; NAPO’s Executive Director Bill Johnson was quoted in a June 21, 2020 Washington Times article entitled, “Tear gas ban will force police to use more physical tactics to disperse crowds, professionals warn”. After weeks of protests and riots in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, law enforcement’s use of tear gas and pepper spray to disperse unruly crowds has come under fire. Several proposals banning law enforcement’s use of such chemical agents have been introduced in Congress and some state and local governments are considering prohibiting them.
For more information on these and other legislative issues, please click on the July 2, 2020 Washington Report below and related information.
The Summer 2020 Police Officers Journal, just like practically everything, was impacted by the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, first detected in our nation in early 2020.
While many people worked from home or didn’t work at all due to the Stay at Home Executive Orders in Michigan, Law Enforcement and Public Safety personnel have been among those on the front lines throughout the pandemic.
The Summer 2020 edition features COVID-19 related articles, a retiring Executive Committee member, and welcomes some new members.
Click here to view, download and share the digital Flip Page Journal, which can be accessed on your smartphone, tablet or computer. To flip the pages, simply click on the arrows to the right and left. To enlarge the Journal for easy viewing, click on the Fullscreen (picture frame) icon on the right bottom corner of the page. Zoom in and out of sections of the page with the magnifying glass icon or slide feature in the bottom right of the screen. To save or share a PDF version of the Journal, click on the Flip Page Download arrow in the top left corner.
As always, we welcome your comments or suggestions by clicking on Contact in the top right corner of the POLC website.
With COVID-19 cases on the rise throughout Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she will not be advancing reopening the state before the July 4th holiday weekend.
“We’re in a stronger position than many other states that are seeing a major resurgence,” Whitmer said. “But our numbers are not as strong today as they were a couple weeks ago, so we must keep up our guard.”
If Michigan has a sustained spike, Whitmer said, that could move some of the previously lifted state restrictions back into place. Currently, the Traverse City area and Upper Peninsula, both of which have seen a slight rise in cases, are in Phase 5. The rest of the state is in Phase 4. Earlier in June, Whitmer had said she hoped to move the entire state into Phase 5 by the Independence Day holiday.
Of particular concern is the spike in cases among 20 to 29-year-olds, said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s Chief Medical Executive and Chief Deputy Director for Health. Khaldun said there is a change in the age groups most highly effected in recent weeks with a rise in cases for those under age 50. She cited case numbers increasing primarily in Lansing, followed by Grand Rapids. Detroit, Kalamazoo and Jackson are all seeing the third highest increase in cases in recent weeks.
Whitmer said she hopes to offer more clarity about the state’s next steps in the next 24 to 48 hours.
COVID-19 continues to shape legislation as Republican lawmakers introduce a $1 billion “Return to Learn Plan” which steers federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds to local school districts so officials craft their own safety protocols, learning plans, academic calendars and extracurricular activities addressing COVID-19 concerns; Unlock Michigan is seeking to repeal a 1945 law giving the Governor emergency powers; Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extends State of Emergency, lifts Stay at Home Order and issues a ‘Play Ball’ EO; The Legislature passed an $880 million supplemental bill, sent to Gov. Whitmer, which allows the state to hire 500 additional Unemployment Insurance Agency employees and provides more PPE, rental and childcare assistance, and COVID-19 testing and equipment; COVID-19 nursing home patients would be separated and sent to a dedicated facility in one of Michigan’s eight health care regions under Senate Bill 956; The state is mandating regular COVID-19 testing of nursing home residents; The Legislature passed a ‘Cocktails to go’ bill for Michigan bars sent to Gov. Whitmer, who is expected to sign the bill.
For more information on these and other legislative initiatives, please click on the June 2020 Karoub Report below.
Excerpted from media.ford.com
Ford Motor Company is doing their part to protect law enforcement during the coronavirus pandemic. The automaker has designed a new heated software enhancement being piloted with the Police Interceptor Utility to reduce viral concentration in vehicles by over 99 percent.
This smart vehicle software is available immediately for all 2013-2019 Police Interceptor Utility models.
Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company has developed software to sanitize Police Interceptor Utility vehicles to help protect officers against coronavirus.
The sanitizing software temporarily raises the interior vehicle temperature over 133 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. Ford worked with Ohio State University to determine the temperature and length of time needed to achieve a 99 percent reduction in the virus on vehicle surfaces.
“First responders are on the front lines protecting all of us. They are exposed to the virus and are in dire need of protective measures,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford chief product development and purchasing officer, in a press release. “We looked at what’s in our arsenal and how we could step up to help. In this case, we’ve turned the vehicle’s powertrain and heat control systems into a virus neutralizer.”
The Ford engineering team began testing vehicle decontamination using heat in late March. Soon after, New York City Police Department alerted Ford to its need for a more efficient disinfecting process during the pandemic.
While sanitizing is in progress, hazard lights and taillights will flash in a pre-set, then change at the end to signal completion and the instrument cluster will indicate progress. A cool-down process brings the temperature down from its highest points.
This heat process can be used to regularly sanitize vehicles when occupants are not inside. During the process, the vehicle remains unlocked, in secure-idle mode, so when the officer removes the key from the ignition, the vehicle cannot be moved. The procedure can be deactivated at any time by pushing the gas or brake pedal.
Heat can seep into crevices and hard-to-reach areas and supplements recommended cleaning methods to help ensure vehicles are properly disinfected before being deployed again.
“Officers can now use this self-cleaning mode as an extra layer of protection inside the vehicle in areas where manual cleaning is prone to be overlooked,” said Stephen Tyler, Ford police brand marketing manager in the release. “This virus is an invisible enemy and we are proud to provide a solution to help the law enforcement community fight it.”
Large police departments with their own service centers can install the software with their own diagnostic service tools. Other departments can work with local dealers to install the software for 2013-19 Police Interceptor Utility vehicles.
Senate Democrats blocked the motion to proceed on Sen. Tim Scott’s (R-SC) police reform legislation, the Just and Unifying Solutions To Invigorate Communities Everywhere (JUSTICE) Act (S. 3985), essentially filibustering the bill.
Democrats do not feel the JUSTICE Act goes far enough and want Republicans to negotiate a bipartisan solution for the Senate to vote on. In the meantime, the House is expected to pass the Justice in Policing Act June 25.
Andrea Edmiston, NAPO Director of Governmental Affairs, shared details on the JUSTICE Act legislation in an email to members below. She also shared the letter NAPO sent to all Members of Congress today regarding NAPO’s opposition to the Justice in Policing Act.
On June 10, the House Judiciary Committee held an oversight hearing on “Policing Practices and Law Enforcement Accountability” which focused on officers use of lethal force, officer accountability and transparency in policing. NAPO sent two letters to the House Judiciary Committee: one in response to the hearing and the entire process and one outlining our most significant concerns with the Justice in Policing Act. Several Committee Republicans voiced support for amending qualified immunity but could not support its elimination. The House is scheduled to vote on the Justice in Policing Act on June 25 and it is expected to pass the House on a party line vote; The Senate Judiciary Committee held an oversight hearing on “Police Use of Force and Community Relations” June 16, which included two panels of witnesses comprised of community leaders, politicians, civil rights proponents and academics, federal prosecutors and local law enforcement representatives. Much of this hearing also focused on qualified immunity, with panelists strongly split on whether it needs to be eliminated – the law enforcement witnesses against the elimination and the others for it. The discussion around qualified immunity continued on the Senate floor June 17, prompting us to send a letter to Chairman Graham explaining why this is a red line issue for us; Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) introduced the Just and Unifying Solutions To Invigorate Communities Everywhere (JUSTICE) Act (S. 3985) on June 17. NAPO worked closely with Senator Scott and Senate Judiciary Committee staff on this legislation and they have largely taken into account our concerns around ensuring officer due process, protecting qualified immunity for officers, supporting the National Consensus Policy on Use of Force which NAPO helped author, and guarding officer privacy and confidentiality rights; On June 16, NAPO Executive Director Bill Johnson was at the White House to witness President Trump sign the Executive Order on Safe Policing for Safe Communities. In the Executive Order, it is evident that the President listened to the voice of rank-and-file law enforcement, the practitioners on the streets most impacted by these reforms; It has been a month since the Democrats passed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, H.R. 6800, which provided extensive aid in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the need for aid increases, particularly for state and local governments who are facing serious budget holes and revenue shortages, the Senate has taken no action on the HEROES Act or created a proposal of their own.
For more on these and other legislative issues, please click on the June 19, 2020 Washington Report and related links below.
By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced schools may re-open for in-person instruction this fall under Phase 4 of the MI Safe Start Plan – with strict health and safety measures in place.
Guidelines are being developed and will be released through an Executive Order and “Michigan’s Return to School Roadmap” June 30, Whitmer said. The Roadmap will be based on recommendations from the Return to Learn Advisory Council, made up of health care and education leaders.
The governor said she is “optimistic” schools will have in-person education in the fall. Decisions as to when and how to open will be based MI Safe Start Plan and Michigan’s eight MERC regions.
Whitmer also extended Michigan’s State of Emergency until July 16. The extension allows her to continue to issue Executive Orders related to the pandemic.
She said residents and business owners need to remain vigilant about wearing masks and maintaining social distancing so the rest of the state can move to Phase 5 of the state’s re-opening plan, which she hopes to announce before July 4.
NAPO is monitoring House and Senate movement on efforts to reform police practices and has sent letters to the House Judiciary Committee and submitted a statement for the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. As these measures move swiftly, NAPO recently sent an email updating members on the issue.
Please click below for more information on police reform legislation and NAPO’s efforts.
In a victory for NAPO, the House passed H.R. 6509, the Public Safety Officers Pandemic Response Act, and S. 2746, the Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection Act, on May 27. The Public Safety Officer Pandemic Response Act would establish that COVID-19 shall be presumed to have been contracted as a result of the officer’s service for the purposes of PSOB death and disability benefits and create a specific standard for COVID-19-related disability. Finally, it would cover under the PSOB Program those public safety officers whose 9/11 related illness are compounded by a COVID-19 diagnosis and led to their death or disability; Over the coming weeks, the House and Senate will be considering police reform policies and legislation in response to the killing of George Floyd. The House Judiciary Committee will be holding a hearing on “police reform” on June 10 in which law enforcement, at this moment, will be represented by the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) and the Major City Chiefs Association. NAPO has reached out to both Chairman Jerrold Nadler’s (D-NY) staff and Ranking Member Jim Jordan’s (R-OH) staff to ensure they have heard NAPO’s voice on what policies are being proposed. The leading proposals include banning vascular neck restraints, data collection on use of force, severely curbing law enforcement’s access to surplus military equipment, and eliminating qualified immunity for officers. NAPO has submitted our concerns on these proposals and indicated that we want to work with law makers on meaningful changes to policing policies and practices; NAPO pledged its support for the SMART Act, H.R. 6954 / S. 3752, a bipartisan bill that would provide state, county, and municipal governments with $500 billion in targeted financial aid; and The Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Servies (COPS) and MovementForward, Inc.’s One Congregation One Precinct (OneCOP) initiative are co-convening the first annual National Faith and Blue Weekend, to be co-hosted by NAPO, the FOP, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Sheriffs’ Association and other national police associations. For more information on these and other legislative initiatives, please click on the link below.