FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE
Washington, DC 2000215
New York Post
1211 Sixth Avenue
New York, NY 10036
I understand that, in the news business, it is important to be first. But what good is being first if you are also wrong?
I am writing on behalf of the Fraternal Order of Police to demand an apology for inaccurate statements made in your newspaper with respect to the "Public Safety Medal of Valor Act" and the role Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary, played and continues to play in our ongoing effort to honor the public safety officers who lost their lives on September 11. You obviously wrote that piece to get people angry – and it worked – only it’s our nation’s law enforcement officer’s who are angry.
To use the fallen officers of September 11 and the families they left behind to make a political attack is reprehensible in the extreme. I can only hope you did so out of ignorance and sloppy reporting, rather than by intent.
The F.O.P. originally conceived the idea of a medal awarded by the President in the name of Congress, and worked closely with Senator Leahy and his staff to draft and ultimately pass, the "Public Safety Officers’ Medal of Valor Act." Without Senator Leahy’s leadership on this issue, President Bush would not have had the opportunity to sign the bill into law.
The Post chose to ignore this fact and erroneously reported that Senator Leahy is blocking efforts to award the men and women who lost their lives in the attacks of September 11 the Medal of Valor. This is completely wrong. Our goal – and Senator Leahy’s goal – when drafting the "Medal of Valor Act," was to make sure the legislation eliminated politics from the process. The Post seems determined to make political hay and big headlines by inaccurately describing a law we worked hard to pass and the process by which public safety officers – not politicians – honor their own.
There was never any question that the men and women of September 11 would be honored – the question is how. I know this to be a fact because, since the attacks, Senator Leahy has involved the F.O.P. at every point in the decision- and policy-making process.
While the F.O.P. deeply appreciates numerous resolutions before the Congress urging that the Medal of Valor be awarded to all those public safety officers who lost their lives in the attack on the United States last September, all such resolutions are nonbinding. Action or inaction on these resolutions has absolutely no impact on whether or not the officers of September 11 will be honored with the Medal of Valor. Whether the Post failed to understand this or just didn’t want to let the facts get in the way of a good story, is something only you can answer.
Had your reporter read the "Medal of Valor Act" or contacted the F.O.P., he would have known that the statute specifically allows the U.S. Attorney General to waive the statutory limitation on recipients in extraordinary situations. Senator Leahy knows this, the F.O.P. knows this, but, apparently, the Post does not know it or did not care to place a simple phone call in an effort to find out.
I believe the Post has a responsibility to find out and report the facts. You failed to do this, and I believe you owe the law enforcement community an apology.
FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE
Washington, DC 2000215
The Honorable Patrick J. Leahy
Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Mr. Chairman,
I am writing on behalf of the membership of the Fraternal Order of Police to offer our support and gratitude for your ongoing efforts to recognize and honor the heroic acts and sacrifices made by our nation’s law enforcement officers, specifically those who gave their lives on September 11, 2001.
Recent newspaper articles which mischaracterize your role and commitment to these efforts have caused a good deal of unfounded concern in the public safety community.
When the F.O.P. originally conceived the idea of a medal awarded by the President in the name of Congress, you and your staff worked closely with us to draft and ultimately pass, the "Public Safety Officers’ Medal of Valor Act." The creation of the Medal of Valor Board, its configuration and role in the selection of the officers to be honored, was meant to ensure that the medals would be presented to officers who had exhibited extraordinary courage. The aim of the law you helped author was to recognize the heroism and dedication to duty that public safety officers demonstrate in the line of duty, as determined by a board of their public safety colleagues. Your commitment to this concept goes beyond the mere passage of the legislation.
Since the President signed the bill last year, you have maintained constant communication with the F.O.P. about the make-up of the Board and your staff has worked hard to ensure that the law was being implemented in the right way. Since the attacks on the United States last September, you have demonstrated again and again that you are there for our nation’s law enforcement officers. You have included the F.O.P. in your decision-making process about how best to honor the memories of those public safety officers who lost their lives on September 11. More than that, you have led every effort to get help to the families of all public safety officers’ who lost a loved one – no matter what the date.
The men and women in policing and the Fraternal Order of Police, know the degree and extent of your commitment to public safety officers and no newspaper article will change this fact.
The F.O.P. deeply appreciates the Congressional sentiment that the Medal of Valor be awarded to all those public safety officers who lost their lives in the attack on the United States last September. As you know, the Medal of Valor Act specifically allows the U.S. Attorney General to waive the statutory limitation on recipients in extraordinary situations. I can think of no other way to describe the events of last September. We strongly believe that the Attorney General will waive the limitation, just as the Medal of Valor Board will no doubt recommend.
You, as a former law enforcement officer yourself, have long been a champion for law enforcement and have proven that again and again in the months since September 11. On behalf of the more than 300,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, I offer my thanks and sincere gratitude for your leadership on law enforcement issues. We look forward to continuing our strong relationship to better the lives and honor the memories of our nation’s public safety officers.
cc: Frank Ferreyra, President, New York State Lodge
April 18, 2002
----- Original Message -----
From: "Cims, Gary" <GCims@rmhllc.com>
Sent: Friday, April 19, 2002 10:52 AM
Subject: FW: I am furious and it isnt EMTALA
> -----Original Message-----
> From: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Sent: Thu 4/18/2002 1:34 AM
> To: Cims, Gary
> Subject: I am furious and it isnt EMTALA
> This is not an EMTALA E-Bulletin, so if you
> not wish to read this, please feel free to
> trash this email, because I am FURIOUS...
> If you know or respect a firefighter, police
> officer, or EMS person, then I think
> you ought to know about this...
> As you may recall, on 9-11 hundreds of
> firefighers, law enforcement personnel, civil
> servants, and EMS personnel died in a valiant
> attempt to save people in the Twin Towers. Many
> more endangered themselves to try to save the
> lives of citizens and fellow rescuers.
> A short time ago, the US House of Representatives
> voted 409-0 to award those people the new national
> civilian award created shortly before this
> national day of tragedy -- the Presidential Medal
> of Valor. Now, I am not sure why Congress gets
> to decide who the President gives medals to, but
> hey...whatever it takes.
> We, the national unity facade is gone, and in one
> of the most arrogant, callous, and downright
> despicable actions from a politician in a long
> line of some pretty scummy things politicians have
> done, ONE US SENATOR has vetoed the medals and the
> US Senate will not even get to vote on it, according
> to the NY Post (nypost.com.)
> Sen Patrick Leahy is the chairman of the Senate
> committee that received the bill from the House,
> and he has decided he will not allow the bill
> through his committee to reach the Senate for a
> I, for one, am more than FURIOUS. It is important
> that we recognize our heros from the 9-11
> attack in as many ways as possible, so it is
> certainly unfortunate that they will not have
> this small piece of recognition and gratitude.
> What I find totally reprehensible is that one
> politician can be so partisan, so manipulative,
> and so addicted to power that they would dare
> to even think of such an affront to these
> public safety personnel, let alone act upon such
> a thought.
> I for one am emailing this "Honorable Senator
> from Vermont". If you wish to join me, his
> email address is email@example.com.
> Steve Frew