The National Police Associations of Police Organizations, or NAPO, hosted a nationwide gathering of leaders last week in Orlando, Florida to discuss the attack on retirement benefits for law enforcement officers.
“Whether the attacks are coming from the thinly disguised front groups funded by the Koch Brothers or just local political opportunists using the current economic climate as an excuse to try to hurt officers and their families the result is the same,” said CLEAT President Todd Harrison who also serves as Vice President of NAPO.
As each state shared stories of political attacks at the local level and in the state legislatures the mood could best be described as ‘determined and defiant’. The discussions ranged from complete disdain for those inside the police labor movement who have adopted the cut and run philosophy and who have advised that nothing can be done to stop the gutting of earned law enforcement retirements.
Nationally renowned speakers such as NAPO President Thomas Nee, President of the Boston Patrolman’s Association shared their vision of educating local members, enriching local PACS, and working to turn the political tide with national public relations campaigns and working to defeat and elect those who openly oppose a decent retirement for officers.
“We learned that CLEAT once again was leading the nation in strategy and in proactive politics. We were one of the few state groups who had already conducted polling, already had a war plan in place and had already begun interweaving our local and statewide Political Action Committees,” said Harrison.
“One of the more disturbing stories we heard were from local and statewide unions who had joined in large statewide campaign efforts with various kinds of public worker groups and had given tons of officer’s dollars with absolutely no input or ability to develop a separate message,” said Harrison, “in Texas we are going to take a different approach. We are going to carry our cause directly to the decision makers—whether in the general public or in the Capitol. We are not going to join some feel good army and depend on others to fight our war.”
Also attending from Texas were Austin Police Association President Wayne Vincent, NAPO Vice President Lee Jackson, Fort Worth (retired), San Antonio Police Officers Association President Michael Helle, SAPOA Vice President Dean Fisher, San Antonio Police Pension Board President Shaun Ury, and former SAPOA President Jerry Clancy (retired); Fort Worth Police Officers Association President Rick Van Houten; Dallas Police Officers Association President Glenn White, and DPA Vice President Ron Hinkle; Houston Police Officers Union Executive Director Mark Clark and Houston Police Pension Board member Ray Hunt; and CLEAT’s Charley Wilkison, Director of Public Affairs.