Significant Public Safety Measures Acheived
Significant Public Safety Measures Achieved
Norton Mitigates Sequestration’s Effect on Public Safety
A day after Norton sent a letter to House and Senate appropriators outlining the potential hazards of sequester-induced furloughs of the U.S. Park Police officers to public safety, the National Park Service (NPS) announced furloughs of Park Police officers would end. Norton was particularly concerned that officers in the Park Police, a unit of the NPS, were furloughed while no other NPS employees were furloughed. The risks to public safety brought on by the furloughs were of special concern because the Park Police has jurisdiction citywide and throughout the region, and because it is the principal federal agency for policing major outdoor events, such as parades and marathons, in the nation’s capital.
Norton also wrote to House and Senate appropriators to request that federal police forces, including the U.S. Capitol Police, the Federal Protective Service and the U.S. Park Police, be given flexibility to avoid any furloughs, considering that the sequester cuts could continue for several more years.
Permanent Lighting to Deter Crime Near Fort Totten Metro
A permanent solution is at hand following muggings in 2012 on a path in the National Park Service (NPS)-owned Fort Totten Park connecting the Fort Totten Metro station to a nearby Ward 5 neighborhood. Norton inspected the path, and then invited Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyon McDuffie and NPS, D.C. National Guard, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), U.S. Park Police, D.C. Department of Transportation, and Metropolitan Police Department officials to her office to develop both interim and permanent solutions to reduce crime on the path. She got NPS and WMATA to place temporary lights on the path until a permanent solution could be funded. Now, NPS has taken the first step toward a permanent solution, with an environmental assessment and a public meeting in the New Year to solicit input and comments from interested parties. Norton will continue to work with NPS on permanent solar-powered lights, which have been successful in combating crime on a nearby path, and on paving the path.
Norton Gets Action to Protect Postal Service Workers Following a Tragedy
Following the murder of a U.S. Postal Service (USPS) letter carrier in Maryland, Norton, a senior member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee and its subcommittee with jurisdiction over the USPS, secured a victory for enhanced USPS worker safety efforts. After the tragedy, Norton wrote to the U.S. Postmaster General regarding the risk of requiring postal employees to deliver mail after dark. In response, USPS and the National Association of Letter Carriers have jointly initiated a nationwide network to identify and address safety issues that pose threats to America’s letter carriers.
Responding to Tragedy at the Navy Yard
Following the Navy Yard shooting in September, Norton wrote to President Obama urging him to form an independent panel to investigate the many security issues raised by the tragic mass shooting. She recommended a panel not only of law enforcement, intelligence, military and security experts, but also experts from such disciplines as technology, psychology, and city and land use planning, to get the needed fresh post-9/11 thinking on how to secure federal employees who work in facilities, like the Navy Yard, that are increasingly a part of a residential or business community.
Norton also met with the Capitol Police Union following the shooting, at their request, concerning the frustration of a Capitol Police tactical team that was ordered to stand down at the scene of the shooting. This controversy is an example of the issues that need to be investigated by the independent panel requested by Norton. An internal Capitol Police investigation found that tactical police forces were ordered to remain at the Capitol because it was not known initially if the Capitol might also be attacked. However, the Capitol was covered by other Capitol Police tactical teams, and it still is not known whether the Capitol Police tactical team at the scene could have saved lives without putting the Capitol at risk, assuming the appropriate coordination of police forces.
Norton offered remarks and led a moment of silence on the House floor in memory of the 12 victims of the Navy Yard shooting and attended the memorial service at the Marine Barracks.
Success in Keeping Our City and Region Protected from Terrorist Attacks
Norton overcame a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) plan to move the Office of National Capital Region Coordination (ONCRC) – which is tasked with terrorist and disaster protection – from the National Capital Region to Philadelphia, PA, hundreds of miles away. Norton got language preventing the move in both chambers. In response to her letter to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Vice Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) and House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) and Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY), language was included in the report accompanying the Senate Appropriations Committee-passed fiscal year 2014 Homeland Security Appropriations bill rejecting the FEMA proposal. The Congresswoman also got language included in the committee report accompanying the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee-passed FEMA Reauthorization Act of 2013 to retain the office in the National Capital Region.
Norton Uses Senatorial Courtesy to Ensure a Responsive Federal Justice System
With the assistance of her Federal Law Enforcement Nominating Commission, Norton continued to use her senatorial courtesy, an important element of statehood, to shape the direction of federal law enforcement in the District. All of Norton’s recommendations to President Obama for federal law enforcement officials in the District this year were nominated, and one was confirmed – Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first African American woman appointed to the federal district court here in 32 years, and only the second to ever serve. The other two were also district court nominees – Casey Cooper, who had a committee hearing, and Tanya Chutkan – but they were not confirmed before the end of the session. However, the president is expected to renominate them on the first day of the second session. Currently pending before the Senate is the nomination of Judge Robert Wilkins, the first of Norton’s district court recommendations, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (the D.C. Circuit). The D.C. Circuit is widely regarded as the second most powerful court in the United States and a stepping stone to the Supreme Court. In November, with the Senate’s first change in filibuster rules in nearly 40 years, which now require an up-or-down vote for all nominations other than for the Supreme Court, Judge Wilkins will likely be readily confirmed early next year. As chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Judicial Nominations Working Group, Norton joined many of her CBC and Senate colleagues, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), at a press conference to celebrate the new filibuster reform rule. In July, Norton’s Judicial Nominations Working Group lead a CBC press conference urging the Senate to move African American judicial nominees forward. The new filibuster rule is the response Norton was after.
Norton has had unprecedented influence on the selection of federal law enforcement officials in the District, primarily judges. A majority of the judges on the federal district court here were recommended by Norton and nominated by either President Obama or President Bill Clinton, both of whom granted her senatorial courtesy to recommend major federal law enforcement officials here.
In addition to Jackson this year, and the expected renominations of Cooper and Chutkan early next year, President Obama has nominated and the Senate has confirmed all five of Norton’s other recommendations for federal district court judges here – Amy Berman Jackson, James E. Boasberg, Rudolph Contreras, Beryl A. Howell and Robert L. Wilkins.
Norton Gets Parole Commission Reauthorized on Last Day Before Expiration
Norton led the effort to reauthorize the U.S. Parole Commission (USPC) for five years, ensuring continuation of the agency whose majority population is D.C. Code felons on parole or under supervised release. Congress had intended to end the USPC, but the National Capital Revitalization and Self-Government Act of 1997 guarantees that it will have continuing responsibilities. This year, Norton finally overcame previous short-term reauthorizations of two years, which had led to serious legal issues raised by federal courts as Congress habitually reauthorized the agency only as expiration approached. The bill was signed into law the day the commission was set to expire. The USPC is chaired by Isaac Fulwood, former D.C. Chief of Police, who Norton recommended to be a commissioner and the chairman.