WHY POLICE OFFICERS BACK W
By FRANK FERREYRA
November 1, 2004 -- IN the face of one of the most bitter presidential races this country has ever seen, a first-ever event occurred in the nearly 90-year history of the National Fraternal Order of Police, the largest law-enforcement labor union in the United States, when the entire organization unanimously supported the endorsement of President George W. Bush. That endorsement represents over 318,000 members and their families. (I was privileged to have our National Trustee Charles Caputo represent the New York State FOP at this meeting and cast our vote. )
The obvious question is: Why the FOP has displayed such unity in its unwavering support of the president? Put simply, it is because under this president, promises made are promises kept. However, the reasons are many, easy to understand and have far-reaching benefits to every citizen in this country.
First and foremost, the Bush administration has repeatedly made good on its commitment to law enforcement. Through key legislation and budget appropriations, our nation's police officers are being provided the necessary tools and support so vital to performing in exemplary fashion day in and day out, in every city, town and village in the United States.
Police officers are the very first line of defense in any crisis situation. But post-9/11, police officers have a new enemy to face with bravery and valor: terrorism. So, in addition to often being first on the scene of a health emergency, car accident or fire, police officers now must contend with the ever-present danger of a terrorist attack anytime, anywhere.
President Bush completely understands this scenario, and has responded by providing federal funds for important aspects of emergency management such as Interoperable Communication and Emergency Operations Centers.
Under his leadership, the administration has rolled up its sleeves and worked hard to change the laws to better protect America. In just four short years, they've enacted some of the most beneficial changes to American law enforcement in the past five decades.
One key piece of legislation, the "Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act," allows off-duty and retired law officers to remain armed. That puts more enforcement professionals on the street to act in a time of crisis. Under the previous administration, this legislation sat stagnant in Congress. President Bush identified it as an important law for homeland security, and did everything in his power to make it a reality.
President Bush also recognizes the role and importance of law-enforcement families. He has worked with the FOP on countless issues affecting those of us who have lost a loved one in the line of duty and has helped the FOP pass the most significant expansion of the federal public-safety officer's survivors-benefit program in a generation.
Police officers have the opportunity to be heroes any day they go to work. Many times, that tag of "hero" costs the ultimate price, as we saw with so many the day America was attacked. Yet law-enforcement professionals do not do their jobs for accolades or recognition. They do it instinctively, without consideration for their own safety.
President Bush recognizes that trait in the police officers across the country. He has shown his appreciation by continually supporting the issues that affect the lives of each police officer their families, and that is why we have responded in kind, with one common voice, to support President Bush on Election Day.
Frank Ferreyra is president of the New York State Fraternal Order of Police, which has more than 20,000 members representing virtually every police department in the state.