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FLEOA Defends ​IG Special Agents...

Washington, DC - Today, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) announced its strong opposition to legislation introduced by Congressman Chris Stewart (R-UT), H.R. 4934, that would eliminate the arrest and firearms carry authority for most Inspector General (IG) Special Agents. In his bill, the "Regulatory Agency Demilitarization" Act, Rep. Stewart belittles IG Special Agents by referring to them as "regulators" that are militarized in their appearance and tactics. Unfortunately, in reaching his misguided conclusions, Rep. Stewart failed to objectively assess the vast
accomplishments of IG Special Agents, as well as their professional tactical training and the risks they face enforcing the law.

To wit, the Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General employs Special Agents that work formidable labor racketeering investigations. In the past three years, the agents' dedicated law enforcement efforts resulted in 1,277 criminal convictions and $679 million in recoveries. This includes hardened defendants who were involved in organized crime , not jay-walking.

The Social Security Administration's Office of Inspector General also employs Special Agents. These highly trained law enforcement professionals are at the forefront in investigating identity theft. Court records show that an increasing number of defendants have state criminal histories. A recent notable case involved the capture of a violent fugitive who eluded capture by hiding behind two stolen identities. This fugitive would not have been apprehended by soft handshakes and pleasant banter.

Another striking example is the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General which employs Special Agents that investigate a variety of crimes. If Rep. Stewart made the effort to visit their website and view its content objectively, he would see the great work these dedicated agents perform. For example, last month HHS-OIG Special Agents played a pivotal role in the charging of six defendants for allegedly running an illegal prescription drug operation. By no means would any reasonable person characterize these defendants as soft and harmless. Additionally, as a result of their great criminal investigative work, IG Special Agents bring in billions of dollars in recoveries. If these agents were unwilling to accept considerable risk in the arrest of these criminals, there would be no financial recoveries. If criminals were permitted to shamefully defraud HHS, how would that bode on taxpayer trust?

These are three examples that hold true for other IG agencies and their Special Agents. It is a declaration of naiveté to suggest that their vast investigative responsibilities be absorbed by DOJ and DHS. All federal law enforcement components endured critical cuts during the last three years from the Sequester, and no agency has the resources to absorb another agency. Additionally, DOJ and DHS components don't enforce warrants while naked, and most federal agents receive the same basic enforcement training at either FLETC or Quantico. Similar to IG Special Agents, DOJ and DHS Special Agents enforce the law while sufficiently equipped and it is likely that Rep. Stewart would be equally unsupportive of their critical work.

According to FLEOA National President Jon Adler, "Rep. Stewart's bill erroneously
mischaracterized properly equipped federal agents asserting a police presence as being militarized. Inspector General Special Agents are professionally trained federal law enforcement officers who play a vital role in protecting our homeland and our government institutions. Prudent steps for Officer Safety should not be misconstrued as militarization."

Failing to consider the risk assessments performed by IG Special Agents, as well as their extensive planning prior to enforcement action, Rep. Stewart disparages the risks agents face by referring to them as "...regulators armed to the teeth and breaking into homes and businesses." Contrary to this misguided assertion, Special Agents aren't burglars who break into homes. They breach doors as a last resort when a non-compliant subject ignores their warrant and lawful authority. Is it Rep. Stewart's intention to cater to individuals who think they're above the law and are not subject to federal laws?

In response to Rep. Stewart's position that IG Special Agents are militarized in  appearance, Adler stated, "When IG Special Agents engage in enforcement operations, this isn't some nefarious masquerade where feds dress up like Ninja Turtles for giggles. It's convenient for Rep. Stewart to take certain cases out of context and portray the subjects as upstanding innocent victims. If Rep. Stewart ever served on a team in an enforcement operation, he'd understand that you can't administer gentle taps on a door while holding a bouquet of flowers and a Hallmark card, and hope the subject will be all smiles and surrender."

It is also important to note that if, as Rep. Stewart alleged, some IG Agents acted like soldiers gone wild, there are investigative components such as Internal Affairs, the Office of Professional Responsibility, and of course the FBI, that would investigate such alleged misconduct. Unfortunately, Rep. Stewart takes a closed eye to this, and instead prefers to disarm IG Special Agents and leave our government institutions vulnerable to criminal fraud. How would that inspire American tax payer confidence?

 

FLEOA National Officers are willing to meet with Rep. Stewart in order to educate him on the importance of well-equipped IG Special Agents, and the risks they encounter while carrying out their formidable missions. There isn't anything "RAD" about diluting Officer Safety.