Approved: June 23, 2009
CWA’s Public Safety Law Enforcement Officers have always been the front line in our communities and states but now, their jobs are more difficult. In addition to standard duties that involve keeping the peace and protecting the lives and property of citizens, these officers also play an essential role in protecting our national security and responding to natural disasters, accidents, hazardous material spills and other occurrences.
This profession, already difficult, has been made even harder by the economic downturn which has caused so many localities to cut and restrict vital public services, including law enforcement and public safety functions.
This approach will likely create even greater problems for those communities and states. In some cases, governments are restricting overtime, instituting a hiring freeze and delaying recruiting and otherwise limiting the work of public safety professionals.
The National Center for Victims of Crime reported a 25 percent increase in calls from October 2007 to October 2008 “as job losses and economic stress factor into increased violence.” Clearly, the need for skilled public safety professionals is greater than ever.
President Obama’s economic recovery plan included $4 billion in Department of Justice funding to help support the law enforcement efforts of state and local governments. It is critical that the government jurisdictions that are the employers of our law enforcement professionals actively apply for funds under this program.
Public safety professionals put their lives on the line every day, in communities across our country. Unfortunately, in most jurisdictions, public safety and law enforcement officers still are deprived of basic rights, like collective bargaining and the ability to have a collective voice. National legislation to correct this injustice is long overdue, and we are optimistic that this year, public safety and law enforcement officers finally will gain the bargaining rights they deserve.
In January of this year, a bill to provide collective bargaining rights for state and local government public safety officers was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Dale Kildee (D-Mich.) and already has the support of 88 co-sponsors.
The Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2009, H.R. 413, is a significant step toward putting in place the kind of employer-employee cooperation that is essential for meeting community and national security needs. In the states and localities where public safety officers already have collective bargaining rights, those laws should be respected and would not be lessened by any national legislation.
Public safety and law enforcement officers also would benefit from a bill introduced in April in Congress by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), the Law Enforcement Officer's Procedural Bill of Rights Act, or the Due Process Act, H.R. 1972. This bill would grant the same due process rights to police officers under investigation that all citizens currently have. Currently, law enforcement professionals under investigation have limited rights. This injustice must be addressed.
Another important goal for law enforcement professionals is a national certification program – a set of standards – that all police officers must meet. Currently, there is no set of standard requirements for local police officers. Such standards are critical to public safety. A national certification for firefighters already exists and a similar measure should be adopted for police officers.
The unique identity of law enforcement calls for a sharp and continued focus on the needs and critical issues facing public safety officers. The National Coalition of Public Safety Officers will lead CWA’s efforts in this area.
Resolved: CWA and the NCPSO strongly support federal legislation to provide public safety professionals with the bargaining rights and collective voice that they need and deserve, as well as federal legislation to restore due process to law enforcement officials.
Resolved: CWA/NCPSO will work with other unions, labor organizations and allies in the law enforcement and public safety community to have these important measures passed by Congress and signed by the President.
Resolved: CWA and the NCPSO will continue to work for the development of a national certification program and standards for local police officers.
Resolved: CWA urges all jurisdictions that employ our law enforcement and public safety professionals actively to apply for funds available from the Department of Justice under the federal Recovery Act and any other funds available to them.