Dear Madam Speaker, Senators McConnell and Schumer and Representative McCarthy,
I am writing on behalf of the members of the Fraternal Order of Police to urge Congress to quickly craft legislation to provide critical funding to local and State governments, which are expected to experience severe revenue shortages that will impact the ability of these governments to deliver services, including vital public safety services.
The FOP wrote to President Trump and this Congress in early March, prior to the declaration of the National Emergency, to alert them that law enforcement would need Federal resources in order to maintain public safety. More than 90% of our nation’s law enforcement are responding to the current crisis from the local level and some of these governments are considering reducing the number of law enforcement officers serving their communities. To do so would be a failure to meet the threshold responsibility of all State and municipal officials, which is to provide for the safety of the public they were elected to represent.
In Baltimore, the city has advised the FOP’s bargaining unit that pay cuts, furloughs and layoffs were possible in the near future. In Dayton, Ohio, the mayor acknowledged that, without Federal assistance, they will have “less police officers” on the street. In Topeka, Kansas, the local FOP union was asked to agree to an across-the-board pay cut because of the city’s budgetary shortfall. The COVID-19 pandemic is certainly a public health crisis, but it is also a public safety crisis. At a time when our officers remain on the frontlines, placing themselves in harm’s way, it is deeply unfair to ask them to sacrifice their pay or their jobs in addition to their health and, potentially, their lives. As of today, 76 law enforcement officers have died from COVID-19 related illnesses.
We are deeply grateful to the President and the Administration’s recent revisions to the guidelines for the expenditure of the funding provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that allows greater flexibility to these local governments, but more resources are needed. Our nation cannot afford to reduce the numbers of law enforcement officers during this time, especially as our nation begins to reopen.
The FOP stands ready to assist you, the Congress and the Administration in how best to support local and State governments until revenue collection is restored when their communities reopen.
On behalf of the more than 350,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, I urge Congress to act quickly in support of local and State governments to ensure that public safety agencies can continue to keep our communities safe. Thank you in advance for your consideration of our views on this matter. If I can be of any assistance whatsoever, please do not hesitate to contact me or Executive Director Jim Pasco in my Washington, D.C. office.