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Response to Proposed FOCUS Act

February 11, 2012

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release
Inquiries - Contact Jennifer Mattingly, PAO (202) 293-1550

FLEOA Opposes FOCUS Act Legislation to Weaken The Lacey Act

Today, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) Announced its opposition to SB 2062 - Freedom from Over-Criminalization and Unjust Seizures Act of 2012, or the FOCUS Act.

Introduced by US Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), this legislation is a dangerous over-reach and over-reaction to the Gibson Guitar case in Nashville, Tennessee. This proposed bill will amend Lacey Act which was passed in 1900 and last amended in 1981. FLEOA President Jon Adler stated that "Conversely this proposed legislation is totally UNFOCUSED”.

In 1920 the Supreme Court recognized and affirmed the need for federal law enforcement of wildlife laws in Missouri v Holland. In this landmark case the high court recognized that many species of game and fish are highly migratory, and those who harvest them are not necessarily local residents. The Lacey Act is recognized as THE most effective wildlife law ever written; as it is based on predicate violations of state, tribal, federal, and international laws. It has been historically recognized that violations of these laws could not be effectively investigated or prosecuted once the wildlife left the jurisdiction where it was illegally taken. This law gives the government the ability to assist state, tribal, local and other nations in investigating wildlife crimes that they otherwise could not due to lack of resources, funding, or jurisdiction considerations.

The bill as written would remove authority from US Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Agents and Officers to carry firearms. This authority exists only in the Lacey Act. The assertion that wildlife agents should not serve and execute warrants with firearms is faulty. Most reasonable people know that "game wardens” and wildlife agents routinely encounter armed subjects whether they are involved in legal or illegal take of fish, game, and wildlife.

Every state legislature in the Union has granted full time state law enforcement status and has armed its wildlife enforcement officers.

In a study conducted by the FBI of assaults on conservation law enforcement officers, it was revealed that agents and officers enforcing environmental and natural resource laws were nine times more likely to be assaulted with a dangerous weapon when compared to traditional law enforcement officers. The public realizes when they are stopped by a state trooper that most traffic violations are usually an infraction, however troopers are still armed!!

The bill also contains removal of international predicate violations. This effectively hampers the enforcement of the Endangered Species and Marine Mammal Protection Acts and the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), as many times violations of this law and this treaty are enforced under the Lacey Act.

The Lacey Act also contains provisions that safeguard the public health and restrict the importation of invasive plants and injurious species of wildlife.

There have been numerous cases where large scale operations exposed the public to contaminated shellfish and falsely labeled seafood that were intercepted before threatening the consuming public.

Recently Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finalized a rule that would ban the importation and interstate transportation of four non native constrictor snakes that threaten the native species of wildlife in the Everglades and other sensitive ecosystems across the United States.

Both of these activities also impact jobs and the economy by providing an unfair competitive edge to unscrupulous seafood dealers and threatening the livelihoods of the tourism industry in Florida and other southeastern states.

Finally the law removes the "big stick” of a potential $250,000 penalty for individuals and $500,000 for corporations prosecuted for felony offenses. These fines are almost never levied, and more reasonable fines are requested by United States Attorneys. However in cases where the subjects made large sums of money through unlawful commercialization of the "people’s wildlife” which is a theft from each and every citizen, then the ability to levy large criminal fines serves as a deterrent against just accepting civil fines as the "cost of doing business”.

FLEOA is the largest professional federal police organization representing over 26,000 federal agents and officers from over 65 agencies.

 

 

 

February 10, 2012

US Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
456 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC. 20510-6175

Honorable Ranking Member James Inhofe,

On behalf of the 26,000 members of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), I am writing to express our membership's strong opposition to Senate Bill 2062, the FOCUS Act. From the professional federal law enforcement perspective, the bill is entirely "UNFOCUSED”.

This bill introduced by US Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is a dangerous over-reach and over-reaction to the Gibson Guitar case in Nashville, Tennessee. This bill is an amendment to the Lacey Act which was passed in 1900 and amended in 1981.

In 1920 the Supreme Court recognized and affirmed the need for federal law enforcement of wildlife laws in Missouri v Holland. In this landmark case the high court recognized that many species of game and fish are highly migratory, and those who harvest them are not necessarily local residents. The Lacey Act is recognized as THE most effective wildlife law ever written; as it is based on predicate violations of state, tribal, federal, and international laws. It has been historically recognized that violations of these laws could not be effectively investigated or prosecuted once the wildlife left the jurisdiction where it was illegally taken. This law gives the government the ability to assist state, tribal, local and other nations in investigating wildlife crimes that they otherwise could not due to lack of resources, funding, or jurisdiction considerations.

The bill as written would remove authority from US Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Agents and Officers to carry firearms. This authority exists only in the Lacey Act. The assertion that wildlife agents should not serve and execute warrants with firearms is faulty. Most reasonable people know that "game wardens” and wildlife agents routinely encounter armed subjects whether they are involved in legal or illegal take of fish, game, and wildlife.

Every state legislature in the Union has granted full time state law enforcement status and has armed its wildlife enforcement officers.

In a study conducted by the FBI of assaults on conservation law enforcement officers, it was revealed that agents and officers enforcing environmental and natural resource laws were nine times more likely to be assaulted with a dangerous weapon when compared to traditional law enforcement officers. The public realizes when they are stopped by a state trooper that most traffic violations are usually an infraction, however troopers are still armed!!

The bill also contains removal of international predicate violations. This effectively hampers the enforcement of the Endangered Species and Marine Mammal Protection Acts and the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), as many times violations of this law and this treaty are enforced under the Lacey Act.

The Lacey Act also contains provisions that safeguard the public health and restrict the importation of invasive plants and injurious species of wildlife.

There have been numerous cases where large scale operations exposed the public to contaminated shellfish and falsely labeled seafood that were intercepted before threatening the consuming public.

Recently Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finalized a rule that would ban the importation and interstate transportation of four non native constrictor snakes that threaten the native species of wildlife in the Everglades and other sensitive ecosystems across the United States.

Both of these activities also impact jobs and the economy by providing an unfair competitive edge to unscrupulous seafood dealers and threatening the livelihoods of the tourism industry in Florida and other southeastern states.

Finally the law removes the "big stick” of a potential $250,000 penalty for individuals and $500,000 for corporations prosecuted for felony offenses. These fines are almost never levied, and more reasonable fines are requested by United States Attorneys. However in cases where the subjects made large sums of money through unlawful commercialization of the "people’s wildlife” which is a theft from each and every citizen, then the ability to levy large criminal fines serves as a deterrent against just accepting civil fines as the "cost of doing business”.

I respectfully ask that you consider the harmful consequences this legislation would bring to Agent & Officer safety and our nations wildlife resources, and VOTE AGAINST IT. If FLEOA can assist your committee with our members' expertise in anyway, please contact me directly through our Public Affairs Officer Jennifer Mattingly at (202) 293-1550.

Respectfully Yours,

Jon Adler
National President

 

 

 

February 10, 2010

US Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
410 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC. 20510-6175

 

Honorable Chairperson Barbara Boxer,

On behalf of the 26,000 members of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), I am writing to express our membership's strong opposition to Senate Bill 2062, the FOCUS Act. From the professional federal law enforcement perspective, the bill is entirely "UNFOCUSED”.

This bill introduced by US Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is a dangerous over-reach and over-reaction to the Gibson Guitar case in Nashville, Tennessee. This bill is an amendment to the Lacey Act which was passed in 1900 and amended in 1981.

In 1920 the Supreme Court recognized and affirmed the need for federal law enforcement of wildlife laws in Missouri v Holland. In this landmark case the high court recognized that many species of game and fish are highly migratory, and those who harvest them are not necessarily local residents. The Lacey Act is recognized as THE most effective wildlife law ever written; as it is based on predicate violations of state, tribal, federal, and international laws. It has been historically recognized that violations of these laws could not be effectively investigated or prosecuted once the wildlife left the jurisdiction where it was illegally taken. This law gives the government the ability to assist state, tribal, local and other nations in investigating wildlife crimes that they

otherwise could not due to lack of resources, funding, or jurisdiction considerations.

The bill as written would remove authority from US Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Agents and Officers to carry firearms. This authority exists only in the Lacey Act. The assertion that wildlife agents should not serve and execute warrants with firearms is faulty. Most reasonable people know that "game wardens” and wildlife agents routinely encounter armed subjects whether they are involved in legal or illegal take of fish, game, and wildlife.

Every state legislature in the Union has granted full time state law enforcement status and has armed its wildlife enforcement officers.

In a study conducted by the FBI of assaults on conservation law enforcement officers, it was revealed that agents and officers enforcing environmental and natural resource laws were nine times more likely to be assaulted with a dangerous weapon when compared to traditional law enforcement officers. The public realizes when they are stopped by a state trooper that most traffic violations are usually an infraction, however troopers are still armed!!

The bill also contains removal of international predicate violations. This effectively hampers the enforcement of the Endangered Species and Marine Mammal Protection Acts and the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), as many times violations of this law and this treaty are enforced under the Lacey Act.

The Lacey Act also contains provisions that safeguard the public health and restrict the importation of invasive plants and injurious species of wildlife.

There have been numerous cases where large scale operations exposed the public to contaminated shellfish and falsely labeled seafood that were intercepted before threatening the consuming public.

Recently Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finalized a rule that would ban the importation and interstate transportation of four non native constrictor snakes that threaten the native species of wildlife in the Everglades and other sensitive ecosystems across the United States.

Both of these activities also impact jobs and the economy by providing an unfair competitive edge to unscrupulous seafood dealers and threatening the livelihoods of the tourism industry in Florida and other southeastern states.

Finally the law removes the "big stick” of a potential $250,000 penalty for individuals and $500,000 for corporations prosecuted for felony offenses. These fines are almost never levied, and more reasonable fines are requested by United States Attorneys. However in cases where the subjects made large sums of money through unlawful commercialization of the "people’s wildlife” which is a theft from each and every citizen, then the ability to levy large criminal fines serves as a deterrent against just accepting civil fines as the "cost of doing business”.

I respectfully ask that you consider the harmful consequences this legislation would bring to Agent & Officer safety and our nations wildlife resources, and VOTE AGAINST IT. If FLEOA can assist your committee with our members' expertise in anyway, please contact me directly through our Public Affairs Officer Jennifer Mattingly at (202) 293-1550.

Respectfully Yours,

Jon Adler
National President