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Mar 27, 2023

Mar 24, 2023 13:22:51

Posted by: Jennifer Gomori

Register today for NAPO’s 2023 Lobby Day Legislative Breakfast & Legislative Awards Luncheon scheduled for Thursday, May 11 on Capitol Hill; President Biden has released his proposed budget request for Fiscal Year 2024. In general, the President’s budget proposal for the Department of Justice (DOJ) is very similar to his FY 2023 request and focuses on supporting police and criminal justice reform initiatives. It proposes adequate sustained funding for several of NAPO’s priority grant programs, including the Bulletproof Vest Partnership (BVP) Grant Program, the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP), also known as the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act, the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act and Supporting and Treating Officers in Crisis (STOIC) Act programs. It also includes a significant funding increase for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program, most of which is prioritized for the President’s anti-violence and police reform priorities; NAPO pledged its support for the Honoring Our Fallen Heroes Act (S. 930 / H.R. 1719). This important bill will cover exposure-related cancers under the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) Program for death and disability benefits. The bill would also make a technical correction to the PSOB’s COVID presumption to change the term “line of duty action” to include any action in which a public safety officer engages at the direction of their agency; NAPO worked closely with Senator John Cornyn’s (R-TX) staff to develop the Public Safety Concussions and Traumatic Brain Injury Health Act (S. 894), which the Senator introduced with Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV). With the riots over the past few years and the increase in physical attacks on law enforcement officers, NAPO feels it is vital that the impacts of concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) be studied and best practices be disseminated to public safety agencies, officers and their families, and medical personnel to help recognize, prevent, and treat such injuries in officers; The DOJ Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) has announced that it is now accepting applications for the fiscal year 2023 Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act (LEMHWA) program. NAPO worked hard to enact the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act in 2018 and has been working to increase funding for this important program every fiscal year since. Program funding has increased from $2 million the first year to $8 million today; NAPO endorsed the Filling Public Safety Vacancies Act, which is an emergency supplemental bill that would provide an additional $162 million for the COPS Hiring Program immediately upon being signed into law. The bill would require agencies using this funding to do background checks and psychological evaluations on officer candidates and the funding can be used to cover the costs of these requirements; Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Congressman Mike Garcia (R-CA) reintroduced the Defending the Defenders Act (S. 868 / H.R. 1627), which would make the murder of a state or local law enforcement officer a federal crime punishable by life in prison or the death penalty; It is appropriations season on the Hill and all members of Congress have to get their spending priorities in to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees within the next two weeks in order for them to be considered as part of the Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations acts. Every year, NAPO works with our champions in Congress to solicit support from members for our priority grant programs.

For more details on these and other legislative issues, please click here for the March 24, 2023 Washington Report.

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