NAPO meets with DOJ on police reform executive order

The NAPO Report

On Oct. 27, NAPO participated in a virtual discussion with representatives from the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP), the Civil Rights Division and the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office to discuss the president’s police reform executive order, particularly Section 14, titled “Promoting Comprehensive and Collaborative Responses to Persons in Behavioral or Mental Health Crisis.”

The DOJ was soliciting feedback on:

• when different models — alternative, co-responder, law enforcement only — should be used and how to make that determination;

• the role of community-based crisis centers and the importance of post-crisis support services;

• the tools, training, and other needs for law enforcement to achieve improved outcomes in these encounters; and

• the risks associated with administering drugs such as ketamine in the field to subdue individuals in behavioral or mental health crisis.

NAPO supports co-responder models in which the law enforcement role is assisted, not supplanted. NAPO has long supported increased training for officers in responding to individuals going through a mental, behavioral or substance abuse crisis to improve outcomes and advocated that rank-and-file officers must be consulted in the development of that training. We also believe that community supports and services need to be in place for those individuals to receive care and treatment.

As for the risks associated with administering ketamine and other such drugs in the field, that is a difficult question. Officers would at least need thorough training, as well as immunity should something go wrong if they administer the drugs in good faith, as is often in place for naloxone.

This was the first of many meetings to discuss the implementation of the executive order. There is a lot of work the Department must do quickly to meet the order’s deadlines. We appreciate the opportunity to be involved and have our voice heard, and we look forward to working with OJP and the Department to achieve policies that have the buy-in of all stakeholders, particularly rank-and-file officers.

NAPO meets with lawmakers urging support for funding the 9/11 WTC Health Program

During the Congressional recess, NAPO continued to meet with the staff of members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to garner strong support for the 9/11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Corrections Act (H.R. 4965). This bill would provide additional funding to the 9/11 World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP), which will face a budget shortfall starting in 2025, forcing the program to limit spending and reduce services for new enrollees as soon as next year.

NAPO fought hard for the passage of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act in 2010 and its reauthorization in 2015 to ensure that our nation took care of the victims and first responders who are coping with 9/11-related chronic health conditions. Zadroga, a New York City Police Department detective and member of NAPO, died of respiratory disease caused by his exposure to toxic chemicals during rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero.

NAPO is urging committee members to cosponsor the bill and provide the needed additional $3 billion in funding. Additionally, we request that they support including the bill — or just the $3 billion — in any must-pass legislation that Congress considers this year.

The 9/11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Corrections Act also makes important changes to improve the ability of the WTCHP to certify both health care providers and WTC-related health conditions, as well as increase funding for research activities.

NAPO focuses on de-escalation training

NAPO is working with Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) to push the Law Enforcement De-Escalation Training Act (S. 4003/H.R. 8637) across the finish line. The bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent on Aug. 1. It is a bipartisan bill that is supported by nearly 50 national law enforcement and mental health organizations and advocacy groups and should easily move through the House. NAPO is reaching out to members to garner additional cosponsors to show House leadership that there is widespread support for the bill, and it should be moved quickly under suspension of the rules when Congress returns from recess.

The bill would build on the existing Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne-JAG) structure to provide a dedicated stream of funding to train officers as well as mental health professionals working with — not in lieu of — those officers in de-escalation tactics, alternatives to use of force, safely responding to mental or behavioral health crises, successfully participating on a crisis intervention team, and making referrals to community-based mental and behavioral health services and support and other social programs.