1811 Magazine — Summer 2011
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President’s Message

While our military engages and combats our enemies abroad, federal law enforcement officers continue to serve as our country’s domestic guardians. While both components provide essential security for our nation, federal law enforcement funding continues to be classified as “non-security, discretionary.” At the same time, certain members of Congress continue to introduce legislation that targets the pay and benefits of the government workforce – that includes federal law enforcement. This will likely result in more federal law enforcement officers opting to retire in order to avoid continued pay freezes and attacks on our pensions. This reduction in force, coupled with hiring freezes, will significantly weaken the foundation of our homeland defense. Both the Administration and members of Congress tell us that we need to compromise, yet they fail to grasp how much we already sacrifice.

First, with the reduction in our ranks, our caseloads (and uncompensated hours worked) will significantly increase. How does their notion of “compromise” factor into our ability to investigate and pursue terrorists, violent felons, fraudsters, drug traffickers, and other criminals that are a threat to our citizenry and our institutions? Second, we will endure a significant increase in officer safety by virtue of a reduction in our numbers. While we continue to pursue violent criminals, we will have less back-up and endure greater fatigue. As our risk of sustaining serious injury or dying increases, we’re told we need to compromise more. A recent legislative proposal, a/k/a compromise, would require us to pay into our pensions at the rate of 11.9%, which is seven times higher than the current rate. How do certain members of Congress in good faith target this alleged compromise at the group that exudes sacrifice?

It is important for members of Congress to know that law enforcement is the only government workforce group that has a dedicated national Memorial Wall that continues to add names of fallen heroes each year. If this isn’t a tribute to our willingness to sacrifice, and compromise, then what is? This year, we already lost eight federal heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice. They gave it all for their country, and didn’t ask for anything in return. Now certain members of Congress think it’s appropriate to honor their sacrifice by attacking their benefits. This is shameful conduct for an elected official.

Each year, federal law enforcement officers arrest thousands of violent criminals and fraudsters who drain our economy, dismantle large criminal enterprises, seize millions of dollars, and defeat terrorist plots that target Americans and our institutions. Our country cannot afford to compromise funding for the essential services we provide. While Congress continues to pass laws that create new crimes or broaden the authority of federal law enforcement agencies, the overall funding continues to be siphoned. This fatal process needs to be reversed, and as constituents of this great nation, we all need to weigh in. I urge you to contact your elected officials, in your personal capacity, and tell them to oppose any legislation that targets the pay and benefits of law enforcement officers. Tell them to stop trying to balance the budget on our strained but enduring backs. Our collective voice will ensure that the position of the brave men and women in federal law enforcement is heard.

This year, the FLEOA Executive Board attended the National Police Week ceremonies in honor of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. The names of 152 law enforcement officers who made the ultimate sacrifice in 2010 were read and carved into the Memorial’s marble walls. The annual Candlelight Vigil was attended by Attorney General Holder and DHS Secretary Napolitano, as well as some of our agency directors. This year, FLEOA Director of Administration Tim Chard represented FLEOA with pride by serving as a name reader on the dais. Craig Floyd and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) staff did an outstanding job organizing all these great events. I would like to recognize Law and Order Criminal Intent star Vincent D’Onofrio for dedicating his time to support and pay tribute to our fallen heroes. For those of you who would like to get more involved with the NLEOMF, I encourage you to visit www.nleomf.org and consider joining the Law Enforcement Ambassadors.

In March, the FLEOA Foundation held its annual awards dinner. This year, the Foundation recognized the Honorable Loretta Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. The event was once again attended by law enforcement dignitaries as well as the distinguished members of the Foundation Board of Directors. This important awards dinner was another reminder of the great work the Foundation does, and I ask all of you to consider the FLEOA Foundation as a great choice for charitable contributions. FLEOA Foundation President Bob Van Etten continues to dedicate his life serving the FLEOA family, and I applaud his lifetime of selfless dedication. He’s supported by a commendable group which includes Emeritus Members Tom Casey, John Bannon, Steve Levy, and also Jim Whelan. These are our home team warriors that immediately assemble when one of our members, or their families, are in great need.

Later that month, I had the privilege to testify before the House Homeland Security subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Management. My testimony focused on the deplorable circumstances surrounding the tragic murder of hero ICE Special Agent Jaime Zapata – as well as the attack on his heroic partner, Victor Avila. While on assignment in Mexico, our heroes were savagely attacked by cartel cowards. This raised the critical issue of officer safety and what means our agents/officers have to defend themselves while assigned to hostile areas overseas. Specifically, FLEOA wants to ensure that the State Department negotiates full diplomatic coverage for all officers/agents assigned overseas, irrespective of whether they’re assigned there as temporary or permanent. FLEOA recognizes the pivotal support rendered by Congressman Michael Grimm, former FBI agent and a great supporter of federal law enforcement. FLEOA also recognizes Chairman Michael McCaul and Rep TomMarino for all their support on this important issue.

More recently, I had the opportunity to appear before the Congressional Law Enforcement Caucus to discuss the concerns of the federal law enforcement community. In addition to discussing the unwarranted legislative attacks on our pay and benefits, I also addressed the USA Patriot Act. While we were advocating for a long-term solution that didn’t compromise our current authorities, Congress ultimately passed legislation to extend the current provisions for an additional four years. I’d like to recognize Caucus Co-Chairman Reichert for assembling this important legislative group, and LEAC President Terry Hunt for his unrelenting support for federal law enforcement officers.

As a September 11th, 2001 first responder, it is my honor to recognize and applaud SEAL Team 6 and the CIA for eradicating a vile societal cancer. They give true meaning to the words, “Justice is served.” I was honored to have the opportunity to be quoted in CNN after OBL’s extinction was announced, and I’d like to share my comments with you: “I would say, ‘May God have mercy on his hideous soul,’ but I don’t think he had one. As we draw near September 11 and mourn the loss of our loved ones, let this victory remind all that the indomitable American will stands strong and eternal.”