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Capitol Hill Day 2020: Progress on Legislative Priorities

(left to right) Eric Heath, Altmann Pannell, John Bernhards, John Ojeisekhoba in front of the Capitol in Washington, D.C.Ahead of the spring Board of Directors meeting, Association officers and IACLEA staff conducted more than one dozen meetings on Capitol Hill, pressing for passage of the Officer Sean Collier Campus Police Recognition Act of 2019. The goal is to finalize language and enact the bill before National Police Week 2020. Therefore, staff arranged meetings with members of the House Judiciary Committee, the committee with jurisdiction over the bill, H.R. 816.

The meetings focused on educating legislative staff on the final details that need to be ironed out to bring consensus on the bill. After discussions last spring with allied organizations, including the National Fraternal Order of Police, IACLEA is close to uniting stakeholders and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle on the final legislative language. The goal is to ensure that sworn police officers employed at private institutions of higher education who die in the line of duty receive federal death benefits. Currently, only officers at public institutions are eligible.

(left to right) Mike Murphy, Rep. Lou Correa (CA), John Ojeisekhoba, and Neil SingletonMichael Murphy, chair of IACLEA’s Government Relations Committee and assistant director of security at Rockefeller University in New York City felt the effort was useful. “For 2020, we revamped Capitol Hill Day, taking a more strategic approach to our outreach on the Hill. The Government Relations Committee decided to focus on trying to get the Sean Collier Act passed prior to Police Week. We focused on meetings with members who are in positions to assist in that mission. We feel confident that we accomplished what we set out to do. And we know what we have to do to bring our mission to fruition by Police Week 2020.”

Altmann Pannell and Chief Terri Brown engaging in conversation with Rep. Val DemingsSupporting the effort were IACLEA President-Elect Eric Heath, University of Chicago Police Department; Mountain Pacific Director John Ojeisekhoba, Biola University Campus Safety Department; and Southeast Director Terri Brown, Florida State University Police Department.

“We appreciate the commitment and determination of our Government Relations Committee members, Board of Directors, and IACLEA members, past and present, who have worked so hard to enact the Sean Collier Act,” said IACLEA Executive Director John Bernhards. “It was a pleasure today to work shoulder-to-shoulder with our outstanding volunteer leaders to move this bill forward. We look forward to the day that we can celebrate its passage.”         

Chief Terri Brown, Altmann Pannell and Mike Murphy sit down with Legislative Director Ebbie Yazdani from Rep. John Ratcliffe's (TX) office.Officer Sean Collier was shot and killed while on duty on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in April 2013 while supporting the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombers. Because MIT is a private institution of higher education, his family is not eligible for the federal Public Safety Officers Benefits. Officer Collier was a sworn law enforcement officer authorized by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to make arrests and obligated to take the same actions to protect citizens and preserve the peace as an officer employed by a city, county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.

The “Sean Collier Act” would provide PSOB assistance to the families of sworn law enforcement officers employed by private colleges and universities. The bill has bipartisan support in Congress. IACLEA urges its passage in Spring 2020.

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