Fly flags at half-staff today, May 15, for National Peace Officers Memorial Day.

May 15, 2013

Missed this earlier.

President Barack Obama issued a proclamation urging Americans to fly flags at half-staff on May 15, 2013, in honor of peace officers who fell in the line of duty, National Peace Officers Memorial Day.

Flag at half-staff in Newtown, Connecticut; from the Newtown, Bee

Flag at half-staff in Newtown, Connecticut; from the Newtown, Bee: Newtown Hook & Ladder Fire Co. #1 has the duty of raising amd lowering the American flag on the Main Street flagpole. Governor Malloy has ordered all flags to be lowered on Wednesday, May 15, in honor of Peace Officers Memorial Day.

For Immediate Release

May 10, 2013

Presidential Proclamations — Peace Officers Memorial Day and Police Week, 2013

PEACE OFFICERS MEMORIAL DAY AND POLICE WEEK, 2013

– – – – – – –

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

Day after day, police officers in every corner of America suit up, put on the badge, and carry out their sworn duty to protect and serve. They step out the door every morning without considering bravery or heroics. They stay focused on meeting their responsibilities. They concentrate on keeping their neighborhoods safe and doing right by their fellow officers. And with quiet courage, they help fulfill the demanding yet vital task of shielding our people from harm. It is work that deserves our deepest respect — because when darkness and danger would threaten the peace, our police officers are there to step in, ready to lay down their lives to protect our own.

This week, we pay solemn tribute to men and women who did. Setting aside fear and doubt, these officers made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the rule of law and the communities they loved. They heard the call to serve and answered it; braved the line of fire; charged toward the danger. Our hearts are heavy with their loss, and on Peace Officers Memorial Day, our Nation comes together to reflect on the legacy they left us.

As we mark this occasion, let us remember that we can do no greater service to those who perished than by upholding what they fought to protect. That means doing everything we can to make our communities safer. It means putting cops back on the beat and supporting them with the tools and training they need. It means getting weapons of war off our streets and keeping guns out of the hands of criminals — common-sense measures that would reduce gun violence and help officers do their job safely and effectively.

Together, we can accomplish those goals. So as we take this time to honor law enforcement in big cities and small towns all across our country, let us join them in pursuit of a brighter tomorrow. Our police officers serve and sacrifice on our behalf every day, and as citizens, we owe them nothing less than our full and lasting support.

By a joint resolution approved October 1, 1962, as amended (76 Stat. 676), and by Public Law 103-322, as amended (36 U.S.C. 136-137), the President has been authorized and requested to designate May 15 of each year as “Peace Officers Memorial Day” and the week in which it falls as “Police Week.”

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 15, 2013, as Peace Officers Memorial Day and May 12 through May 18, 2013, as Police Week. I call upon all Americans to observe these events with appropriate ceremonies and activities. I also call on Governors of the United States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, officials of the other territories subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, and appropriate officials of all units of government, to direct that the flag be flown at half-staff on Peace Officers Memorial Day. I further encourage all Americans to display the flag at half-staff from their homes and businesses on that day.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this tenth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.

President Barack Obama stands for a photo with 2013 National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) TOP COPS award winners during a ceremony in East Room of the White House on May 11.

President Barack Obama stands for a photo with 2013 National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) TOP COPS award winners during a ceremony in East Room of the White House on May 11.

Ceremonies honoring policemen and other peace officers have been carried on all week in Washington, and across the country.  President Obama met with honored officers last Saturday in the White house.  President Obama also had comments today at a ceremony honoring peace officers, in the Capitol.

BARACK OBAMA

For Immediate Release

Remarks by the President at the National Peace Officers Memorial Service

U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C.

11:20 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you, everybody.  Please have a seat.  Thank you, Chuck, for that introduction and more importantly for your leadership as National President of the Fraternal Order of Police.  I want to recognize the entire Order and all its leaders, including Jim Pasco, for everything that you do on behalf of the fine officers who walk the beat, or answer the call, and do the difficult work of keeping our communities safe all across the country.

I want to also acknowledge FOP Auxiliary President Linda Hennie for the good work that she and all her members do to support the families of police officers.  We are very grateful to you, to Speaker Boehner, Leader Pelosi, members of Congress, members of my administration who are here, to all the law enforcement officials who are and, most of all, to the survivor families.

Scripture tells us, “None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.”  The brave officers we gather to remember today devoted themselves so fully to others — to serve and to protect others — that in the process they were willing to give their lives.

And so, today, let us not remember them just for how they died, but also for how they lived.

Officer Bruce St. Laurent of the Jupiter, Florida Police Department was, according to a friend, “just what a cop should be:  tough, compassionate, caring, and brave.”  But to his community, he was more than a cop.  He was a cancer survivor.  He was a guest teacher at Jupiter High School who used the laws of traffic to help kids learn physics.  He was an amateur snake charmer of sorts, eagerly taking panicked calls about snakes on the loose.  And at Christmas time, he loved being Santa Claus for the kids in the local Head Start program.

I have the privilege of working with some of the nation’s finest law enforcement officers and professionals every day.  And I’m perpetually mindful of the sacrifices they make for me and for my family, and for other leaders and visiting dignitaries, but never more so than when I was told that Officer St. Laurent was struck and killed by another vehicle while driving his motorcycle as part of my motorcade.

Bruce was a loving husband to Brenda, a doting father to Larry, and Albert, and Lenny, and Chartelle.  And he will be missed so deeply by his family at home and by his family in the force.  And the police officers who came from all over the country to attend Bruce’s funeral, some bringing their motorcycles as far away as California, they’re a testimony to how much he’ll be missed.

Like Bruce, Deputy Sheriff Barbara Ann Pill of Brevard County Sheriff’s Office in Florida was a force for good in her community — remembered as a “behind-the-scenes hero” by those who knew her.  Because for Barbara, helping others was never a question.  Before joining the force, she counseled abused children and helped families struggling with domestic abuse.  That passion served her and led her to a career in law enforcement, and inspired her two sons to follow.  So when Barbara was shot while investigating a suspicious vehicle last spring, not only did her husband, Steve, lose his partner of more than 30 years, the town of Melbourne, and the nation itself, lost one of its most dedicated citizens.

All of you in law enforcement, you devote your lives to serving and protecting your communities.  Many of you have done it for your country as well.  After serving two tours in Iraq as a Marine, Bradley Michael Fox retired with honor and followed his dream to becoming a police officer.  He had been with the Plymouth Township Police Department in Pennsylvania for five years when he was shot and killed pursuing a suspect last September.  It was the day before his 35th birthday, and six months before the birth of his son.

Nothing will replace the enthusiasm that he brought to his job, or the tremendous pride he had in his family.  But today, Brad’s wife, Lynsay, and daughter, Kadence, and baby, Brad Jr., have a living reminder of their fallen hero — that’s Brad’s K9 partner, a trusty shepherd named Nick, who Lynsay adopted into the family when he retired from the force last fall.

Deputy Sheriff Scott Ward also defined service.  He was a former officer in the Air Force, a deputy in the Baldwin County, Alabama, Sheriff’s Office for 15 years, and finished a tour in Afghanistan last year as a reservist in the Coast Guard.

Last November, Deputy Sheriff Ward was shot and killed in the line of duty while trying to settle a domestic dispute.  And he died as he lived — serving his community and his country.  And the fact that his funeral procession stretched for miles demonstrated the thanks of a grateful nation to Scott’s wife, Andrea, and his family.

At Scott’s funeral, Baldwin Country Sheriff Huey Mack said, “Tomorrow we will continue to grieve Scott, but we will have to move on.  That’s what Scott would want us to do because our mission does not stop.”

That message I think rings true in every police department across the country.  As difficult as times may be, as tough as the losses may be, your mission does not stop.  You never let down your guard.  And those of us who you protect should never let slide our gratitude either.  We should not pause and remember to thank first responders and police officers only in the wake of tragedy.  We should do it every day.  And those of us who have the privilege to lead should all strive to support you better — whether it’s making sure police departments and first responders have the resources they need to do their jobs, or the reforms that are required to protect more of our officers and their families from the senseless epidemics of violence that all too often wrack our cities and haunt our neighborhoods.

And Bobby Kennedy once said that the fight against crime “is a fight to preserve that quality of community which is at the root of our greatness.”

The 143 fallen officers we honor today put themselves on the front lines of that fight, to preserve that quality of community, and to protect the roots of our greatness.  They exemplified the very idea of citizenship — that with our God-given rights come responsibilities and obligations to ourselves and to others.  They embodied that idea.  That’s the way they died.  That’s how we must remember them.  And that’s how we must live.

We can never repay our debt to these officers and their families, but we must do what we can, with all that we have, to live our lives in a way that pays tribute to their memory.  That begins, but does not end, by gathering here — with heavy hearts, to carve their names in stone, so that all will know them, and that their legacy will endure.  We are grateful to them and we are grateful to you.

May God bless the memory of those we lost, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
11:29 A.M. EDT

President Barack Obama, with Chuck Canterbury, president, Grand Lodge Fraternal Order of Police, arrives at the National Peace Officers Memorial Service

White House caption: President Barack Obama, with Chuck Canterbury, president, Grand Lodge Fraternal Order of Police, arrives at the National Peace Officers Memorial Service, an annual ceremony honoring law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in the previous year, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. May 15, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Shutup and read: Text of S. 649, Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013

April 11, 2013

Sen. Ted Cruz claims no one has read the text of S. 649, the Safe Communities and Safe Schools Act of 2013.

English: Ted Cruz at the Republican Leadership...

Reading-impaired U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. Wikipedia image

Contact: (202) 224-5922 / press@cruz.senate.gov
Thursday, April 11, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) released the following statement regarding the pending vote on the motion to proceed to new gun control legislation:

This morning the Senate will vote on the motion to proceed to the firearms bill (S.649). It is expected that the Toomey-Manchin provision announced yesterday will replace the current language regarding background checks. Yet, as of this morning, not a single senator has been provided the legislative language of this provision. Because the background-check measure is the centerpiece of this legislation it is critical that we know what is in the bill before we vote on it. The American people expect more and deserve better.

Unfortunately, the effort to push through legislation that no one had read highlights one of the primary reasons we announced our intention to force a 60 vote threshold. We believe the abuse of the process is how the rights of Americans are systematically eroded and we will continue to do everything in our power to prevent it.

He’s an idiot, I know.

Amendments to the original text are pending — but here is the text of the proposed law as introduced in the U.S. Senate on March 22; amendments will be available at several places as they are proposed or approved, including the Library of Congress’s Thomas legislative tracking site.

Sen. Toomey published a quick summary of the bill as amended — this is what Cruz really fears:  Legislation that might make public schools safer (never forget Cruz opposes public education):

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, D-Pennsylvania

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, D-Pennsylvania, in a committee hearing room; photo released by Toomey’s office

Bottom Line: The Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act would require states and the federal government to send all necessary records on criminals and the violently mentally ill to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The bill extends the existing background check system to gun shows and online sales.

The bill explicitly bans the federal government from creating a national firearms registry, and imposes serious criminal penalties (a felony with up to 15 years in prison) on any person who misuses or illegally retains firearms records.

TITLE ONE: GETTING ALL THE NAMES OF PROHIBITED PURCHASERS INTO THE BACKGROUND CHECK SYSTEM

Summary of Title I: This section improves background checks for firearms by strengthening the instant check system.

• Encourage states to provide all their available records to NICS by restricting federal funds to states who do not comply.

• Allow dealers to voluntarily use the NICS database to run background checks on their prospective employees

• Clarifies that submissions of mental health records into the NICS system are not prohibited by federal privacy laws (HIPAA).

• Provides a legal process for a veteran to contest his/her placement in NICS when there is no basis for barring the right to own a firearm.

TITLE TWO: REQUIRING BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR FIREARM SALES

Summary of Title II: This section of the bill requires background checks for sales at gun shows and online while securing certain aspects of 2nd Amendment rights for law abiding citizens.

• Closes the gun show and other loopholes while exempting temporary transfers and transfers between family members.

• Fixes interstate travel laws for sportsmen who transport their firearms across state lines in a responsible manner. The term “transport” includes staying in temporary lodging overnight, stopping for food, buying fuel, vehicle maintenance, and medical treatment.

• Protects sellers from lawsuits if the weapon cleared through the expanded background checks and is subsequently used in a crime. This is the same treatment gun dealers receive now.

• Allows dealers to complete transactions at gun shows that take place in a state for which they are not a resident.

• Ensures that sales at gun shows are not prevented by delayed approvals from NICS.

• Requires the FBI to give priority to finalizing background checks at gun shows over checks at store front dealerships.

• Authorizes use of a state concealed carry permit instead of a background check when purchasing a firearm from a dealer.

• Permits interstate handgun sales from dealers.

• Allows active military to buy firearms in their home states.

• Family transfers and some private sales (friends, neighbors, other individuals) are exempt from background checks

• Adds a 15 year penalty for improper use or storage of records.

TITLE THREE: NATIONAL COMMISSION ON MASS VIOLENCE

Summary of Title III: : This section of the bill creates a commission to study the causes of mass violence in the United States, looking at all aspects of the problem, including guns, school safety, mental health, and violent media or video games.

The Commission would consist of six experts appointed by the Senate Majority Leader and six experts appointed by the Speaker of the House. They would be required to submit an interim report in three months and a completed report in six months.

WHAT THE BILL WILL NOT DO:

The bill will not take away anyone’s guns.

The bill will not ban any type of firearm.

The bill will not ban or restrict the use of any kind of bullet or any size clip or magazine.

The bill will not create a national registry; in fact, it specifically makes it illegal to establish any such registry.

The bill will not, in any way at all, infringe upon the Constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.

Sen. Cruz, you have money in your office budget for training for you and your staff in tracking legislation — I’ll be pleased to come show you how to track down such language.

Below the fold, the current text of the bill (as of 4:26 p.m., April 11, 2013).

Update:  Below the fold, the text of the bill as proposed to be amended, published by Sen. Toomey late yesterday; then, below that, the original bill as introduced by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada — compare them if you like.

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How’s that austerity working for you?

April 6, 2013

NJ State Police Benevolent Association sign

Sign outside Atlantic City, New Jersey. Image from NJSPBA.com

“Even the bad guys are feeling lucky.”

With declining income, American cities lay off cops.

No problem for the rich!  Just hire private cops! Story in the Christian Science Monitor:

After people in Oakland’s [California] wealthy enclaves like Oakmore or Piedmont Pines head to work, security companies take over, cruising the quiet streets to ward off burglars looking to take advantage of unattended homes.

*  *  *  *  *  *

Long known for patrolling shopping malls and gated communities, private security firms are beginning to spread into city streets. While private security has long been contracted by homeowners associations and commercial districts, the trend of groups of neighbors pooling money to contract private security for their streets is something new.

Besides Oakland, neighborhoods in Atlanta and Detroit – both cities with high rates of crime – have hired firms to patrol their neighborhoods, says Steve Amitay, executive director of the National Association of Security Contractor.

“It’s happening everywhere,” Mr. Amitay says. “Municipal governments and cities are really getting strapped in terms of their resources, and when a police department cuts 100 officers obviously they are going to respond to less crimes.”

Potential issues:

  1. Is the cost less than the modest increase in taxes required to keep the cops on?
  2. What happens when a rent-a-cop finds criminals in action?  Private security firms are not bound to stop criminal action, nor put their lives on the line to catch criminals.
  3. Would it be as effective if those people who fire private security simply donated that money to local law enforcement agencies?

File this under the so-called conservative rich cutting off their fingers to spite their hands:  Does it ever occur to them that they would have more bankable cash if they didn’t have to hire a security service to guard their homes, but instead paid modest taxes to educate would-be criminals to do non-criminal work, and to provide police protection instead of private spies?

Didn’t Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association say his agency would support bigger budgets to hire more cops?  Where is that lobbying action today?  What’s that — he was just jerking whose chain?  (I’d be more comfortable if I knew LaPierre does not regard Somalia as the model for how a national government ought to work.)

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