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NLC testifies on 'police bill of rights.' (National League of Cities)

House Judiciary subcommittee chairman, Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has thrown his support behind a federally mandated police officers' bill of rights - a measure NLC opposes because it permits federal intervention into local goverance and internal investigation wtihin local law enforcement units.

Further, Schumer has asked that all parties, including NLC, join together to craft a compromise bill following a hearing was last week on the rights of police officers during non-criminal, internal investigations. NLC opposes this measure.

A fundamental issue at stake in any federally mandated police officers' bill of rights is the role of the federal government in the "disciplinary and internal affairs investigatory procedures for state and local law enforcement agencies." In that regard, those opposed to the police officers' bill of rights have consistently maintained that state and local governments must be allowed to craft internal disciplinary procedures to fit the particular state or locality and that federal intervention is neither warranted not desired.

Testimony was presented jointly on behalf of NLC, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the National Public Employer Labor Relations Association, by Greenwood, Ind. Mayor Margaret McGovern. In her remarks, McGovern said, "Historically, local governments have had the right to ensure public safety and are held accountable for the performance and effectiveness of the municipal police force."

"No other federal law has ever sought to extend the rights to individuals based on their employment classification. Rather, U.S. civil rights laws have traditionally been predicated on the need to create parity and equality for certain suspect classes of individuals. That is, classes of individuals identified on the bassi of race, gender, ethnicity, religion or disability. We do not believe that the unsubstantiated and undocumented allegations of some groups representing police officers are sufficient grounds for treating police officers as if they were a constitutionally suspect class."

Those testifying on behalf of the proponents of such a bill included: Fred Keeney, Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), Robert Scully, President, National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO), Chip Warren, Vice President, International Brotherhood of Police Officers, Kenneth Mancuso, Chief, Cranston, Rhode Island Police Department, William Aitchison, Attorney with the Portland, Oregon firm of Aitchison, Hoad, Vick and Tarantino, Sandra Byrd, former police officer from Long Beach, North Carolina.

Testifying in opposition of a police bill of rights were: Margaret McGovern, Mayor, Greenwood, Indiana, Roland Vaughan, President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Larry Erikson, National Sheriffs Association, and Edward Pease, National Conference of State Legislatures.
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Author:Quist, Janet
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Mar 23, 1992
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