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 advise you of our support for legislation to provide at least $160 billion in critical funding to local and State governments, which have experienced severe revenue shortages as a result of the pandemic. Without this funding, the ability of these governments to deliver services, including vital public safety services, will be greatly diminished or even eliminated.
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 have had to reduce the number of law enforcement officers serving their communities due to revenue decreases. In Kansas City, Missouri, budget cuts could result in two police stations closing even as crime is rising in the city. In my home State of Louisiana, the city of New Orleans is requiring public employees, including law enforcement officers, to take 26 unpaid furlough days, which is the equivalent of a 10% pay cut. Furthermore, some local prosecutors are being forced to stop prosecuting some types of misdemeanors in an effort to cut costs.
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, 302 law enforcement officers have died from COVID-19 related illnesses.
This is not a blue state or a red state issue. State and local governments are struggling due to lost revenue from tourism, energy-related taxes, sales taxes, and personal income taxes. Meanwhile, costs are rising with COVID-19 currently surging across the country and even with a vaccine now available, it will still take time for our economy to recover. Failing to support State and local governments will only lengthen the time for this recovery to take place.
On behalf of the more than 356,000 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.