As part of our continuing efforts to make sure that the voice of rank-and-file law enforcement is heard wherever decisions are being made that affect our safety and working conditions, NAPO President Mick McHale and Executive Director Bill Johnson met with Attorney General Bill Barr on March 21. McHale and Johnson discussed NAPO’s priority issues regarding the Department of Justice (DOJ) and praised the direction the Department is going under the Trump Administration, adding that they hope that the close relationship between the Department and state and local law enforcement continues under his leadership.
McHale and Johnson touched on the need for continued federal support for law enforcement through funding, resources and general support for the officers on the street. They also discussed the need for increased penalties for those who harm or target for harm law enforcement officers and suggested that the DOJ can play a role in ensuring such protections for officers, outside of legislation. While NAPO works for the passage of the Thin Blue Line Act and the Protect and Serve Act, we believe the Attorney General has the power to extend protections to state and local law enforcement without the passage of legislation.
McHale and Johnson urged the Attorney General to consider federal criminal prosecutions in cases involving (1) the assault and murder of and federally-funded local law enforcement officers, such as those officers whose agencies receive aid from the Departments of Justice or Homeland Security; and (2) the assault and murder of state and local officers engaged in the protection of federally recognized civil rights, such as those officers attacked while safeguarding protests.
Additionally, McHale and Johnson let the Attorney General know of NAPO’s strong support for the Justice Department guidelines implemented under then-Attorney General Sessions in November 2018, which protect the interests of state and local governments in managing their own affairs and limit the duration of federal consent decrees to which state and local governments are party.
McHale and Johnson also highlighted our priority grant programs within the DOJ, including the COPS Hiring Program, the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program, the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTRCA), and the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Program.
Attorney General Barr stated it is his intention to continue the work and priorities of his predecessor, Jeff Sessions, as they are his priorities as well. He wants to maintain and grow the close, collaborative relationship the Department has developed with its state and local law enforcement partners. McHale and Johnson thanked him and stated that NAPO looks forward to working with him to ensure the men and women protecting our communities have the support and resources necessary to do their jobs safely and effectively.
Prior to meeting with Attorney General Barr, McHale and Johnson attended the Cabinet Chair Presentation for Jeff Sessions, a ceremony for staff, family and friends to honor his time as Attorney General and present him with his official Cabinet Chair. Attorney General Barr, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the previous Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker were on hand to celebrate Attorney General Sessions. McHale and Johnson took this opportunity to thank the former Attorney General for his strong support for law enforcement and let him know that we value his continued relationship with NAPO.