By Jim Pasco
At this writing, the National Legislative Office is still heavily engaged with events and memorials to commemorate this year’s National Police Week. The National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service, hosted by National President Canterbury and featuring a keynote address by President Barack Obama, was the capstone event for this year.
Evaluating Your Candidate: Tools You Can Use
Staff in the National Legislative Office, in addition to contributing to the design of the Presidential Screening Questionnaire, have developed a Model Questionnaire designed for use by State and local lodges to help them evaluate candidates seeking an endorsement for congressional office. Obviously, the survey is a model and we encourage State and local lodges to make it their own by including issues of importance to their state or district.
You can find the Model Questionnaire in the Legislative section of the FOP’s website: www.fop.net/legislative/congquest12.pdf.
In addition, for the first time ever, the FOP has developed a voter’s scorecard to enable State and local lodges to objectively analyze the performance of their elected representatives in the 112th Congress. The scoring system is, like the Model Questionnaire, a tool for State and local lodges to assist them in their own endorsement processes.
Members of Congress are evaluated on key votes, floor votes, committee votes, cosponsorship of top priorities, cosponsorship of bills the FOP supports and cosponsorship of bills the FOP opposes. Each member is evaluated on two separate issues — public safety and labor. The two grades are averaged to yield the member’s overall score and a greater weight is accorded to the member’s voting record.
By using the objective scorecard, your State and local lodges can evaluate the member’s performance as a whole, and also analyze their positions within the two broader categories — public safety and labor. State and local lodges should bear in mind that this grading system should augment, and not replace, candidate questionnaires and interviews.
The Scorecard System is posted in the Members Only Section of the FOP website. The National Legislative Office staff will work to ensure that the grades are updated regularly.
Finally, so that all FOP members can participate more knowledgeably in grassroots activity and educate themselves about all the top priorities, an electronic copy of the Day on the Hill 2012 Briefing Book can be found in the Legislative section of the FOP’s website: www.fop.net/legislative/DOH12BriefingBook.pdf.
Reauthorization of the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act
In the previous issue of the Journal, we reported on the testimony delivered by National President Canterbury regarding the importance of the Bulletproof Vest Partnership grant program. The program’s authorization expires at the end of this fiscal year, leading the FOP to work with the House and Senate cosponsors of the original act, which was passed in 1998.
In the Senate, Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary, sponsored S. 2554, the “Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act,” which would reauthorize the program through 2017. The bill, with strong support from the FOP, was favorably reported by the Judiciary Committee during National Police Week on a 17-1 vote. Only Senator Thomas A. Coburn, MD (R-OK), voted against the measure, which will next go to the Senate floor.
In the House, Representatives Frank A. LoBiondo (R-NJ) and Peter J. Visclosky (D-IN) introduced the House companion bill, H.R. 5742. In our discussion with those offices, we are hopeful for swift action on the bill before the end of the month, followed by a vote on the floor — unless the Senate bill is adopted first and then transmitted to the House. In any case, we anticipate the bill passing Congress in advance of its expiration.
National Blue Alert Act Passes House
On National Peace Officers’ Memorial Day, the U.S. House of Representatives considered and passed H.R. 365, the “National Blue Alert Act,” on a 394-1 vote. Hours earlier, the National Fraternal Order of Police and more than 20,000 officers and their families had gathered on the West Lawn of the Capitol to reflect and remember the officers killed in the line of duty in the previous year.
The bill, which was originally developed by the FOP and introduced by Representative Michael G. Grimm (R-NY) in the House and Senators Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-SC) in the Senate, would establish a “National Blue Alert” system for the local, regional and national dissemination of time-sensitive information to help identify a suspect in the event that a law enforcement officer is killed or seriously injured in the line of duty.
The Senate bill, S. 657, was favorably reported by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary in September. Following passage of the bill by the House, the legislation was held at the desk in the Senate, a move that allows it to be considered on the floor without first being referred to committee. It is our hope that the bill will be taken up by the Senate very soon.