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President's Message

The Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund - In the News
President’s Response - September 2014

In November 2013, the Society announced an agreement with the Law Enforcement Legal Defense fund (LELDF), a nonprofit organization headquartered in Alexandra, Virginia.  The LELDF was founded in 1994 to provide legal assistance regarding court challenges to legitimate law enforcement activity.  In our agreement, the LELDF agreed to provide such assistance, if warranted, to Society members for actions in connection with their FBI service, and the Society agreed to be the “eyes and ears” of our membership for referrals to the LELDF.  In other words, we look out for law enforcement cases that might qualify for assistance.  Our connection to the LELDF extends beyond this formal agreement.   LELDF President Ron Hosko recently retired from the FBI as Assistant Director of the Criminal Investigative Division.  On its Board of Directors are retired FBI executives John Burke and Daniel DeSimone.  All three are Society members.

Our association with the LELDF ties closely to two of the Society’s advocacy goals:  1) to support the FBI, and 2) to support the law enforcement community.   Our advocacy efforts are designed to effectively develop and utilize the Society’s public voice.  The Society Information Committee, under the leadership of Chair Al Scudieri, coordinates this effort.  

This past week, the LELDF announced its decision to assist a former Utah law enforcement officer now charged with manslaughter.  After the 2012 shooting death of a 21-year-old woman during a drug operation, former West Valley police detective Shaun Cowley was charged with her death. The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office determined the shooting was not legally justified before filing criminal charges this summer. 

The LELDF screens it cases carefully, only providing assistance to those officers they believe were acting within their legitimate authority.  As we know, in most officer-involved shootings, the issue to be decided is whether the officer had a reasonable belief that he (or another person) was in imminent danger of serious bodily harm and that he feared for his life (or the life of another). This question and others are usually answered following a thorough investigation of the facts and circumstances available to the officer at the time of the shooting.   Unfortunately, at times, an officer may be faced with criminal prosecution and questions are only answered after a criminal proceeding.  The LELDF exists to help officers like Cowley, who they believe have acted within the scope of their duties, but who end up in this very unfortunate situation. 

It is noted that the Society has no information on Cowley’s case, other than what has been reported in the news.

In keeping with our agreement, the LELDF is appreciative to learn of this and other situations where its services may be of help.  Society members who know of possible case referrals are requested to bring the information to the attention of the Society’s Information Committee.

More information on the LELDF is available at

The news report is available at

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