FLEOA 2011 Legislative Priorities

Legislative Priorities & Positions
Standing Up For Federal Law Enforcement
112th Congress

FLEOA is the largest nonpartisan, nonprofit professional association, exclusively representing active and retired federal law enforcement officers. FLEOA represents more than 26,000 federal law enforcement officers from over 65 different agencies.  The organization provides a legislative voice for the federal law enforcement community, and frequently provides testimony at congressional hearings, monitors legislative issues that may impact federal law enforcement officers, and encourages its membership to contact their elected officials to express their concerns.

Federal law enforcement is an occupation that is absolutely unique in the ranks of the federal government. The federal law enforcement officer has no counterpart in the private sector. Law enforcement positions are filled by men and women who risk their lives each day to protect our nation from criminals and terrorists. It is one of the most stressful, most dangerous, and most rewarding careers for those who meet the rigorous requirements of the job.

In the 112th Congress, there is an urgent need for Members of Congress to stand up for federal law enforcement, and to push back against legislation that would strip them of the pay and retirement benefits they have earned and are entitled to by virtue of their service. Specifically, we ask that Congress support the law enforcement funding classification as "mandatory security,” and not have it minimized as it currently is under "non-security discretionary.” FLEOA stands ready to work with the Congress to find new ways to enhance the performance and effectiveness of federal law enforcement officers, protect law enforcement pay and benefits, enhance recruitment and retention, improve officer safety, and strengthen homeland security and the criminal justice system. Likewise, the organization will vigorously oppose legislative attempts to strip federal law enforcement officers of their rights to due process, diminish the ability of agencies to continue to recruit and retain the highest caliber law enforcement personnel, or otherwise negatively impact the mission of federal law enforcement.

I. Protecting Federal Law Enforcement Pay & Benefits; Enhancing Recruitment & Retention of Qualified Officers

There is no disputing that federal law enforcement is unique among occupations in the federal government. No other employee in the federal service is routinely asked to put their lives on the line to protect our nation from terrorists and criminals. In its ranks is the Secret Service Special Agent who is prepared to sacrifice himself to protect the lives of the First Family or a high-ranking government official; the Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent who tirelessly pursues suspected terrorists and is often called upon to relocate his family; the Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent who, at great personal risk, goes deep undercover to bring down a drug cartel; and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent stationed overseas working to stop foreign arms trafficking. They are motivated to meet these demands by a sense of duty, honor, and service to our Nation; and it is in our Nation’s best interest to appropriately compensate them for their service and for the hazards they face to keep us safe. It is in recognition of this fact that Congress established distinct pay and benefits systems for federal law enforcement positions.

Unfortunately, these same law enforcement pay and benefit systems are now under attack in the general effort to reduce Federal spending to balance the budget. Some Members of Congress have advocated that deficit reduction can be achieved by reducing Federal employment, implementing pay freezes, and eliminating retirement benefits. They have asserted that there is an urgent need for parity with the private sector in terms of pay and benefits. They make no distinction between the jobs performed by law enforcement officers and the rest of the federal workforce, or recognize that there are no comparable positions in the private sector. What these individuals fail to realize, however, is the devastating impact such policies would have on Federal law enforcement, and the ability of agencies to recruit and retain the best officers possible. In order to even be considered for a position, applicants must be competitive among a group of well-educated, physically fit, and highly motivated individuals. Those who are finally accepted must then pass a rigorous background check and survive a lengthy training program that is both physically and academically demanding. After training is completed, federal law enforcement officers are assigned to duty stations in areas with the highest cost of living in the country, including Washington, DC, New York City and Los Angeles. They do not pick these locations. Rather they are assigned to them because these cities are where the crime and homeland security threats are most urgent.

The threats to our Nation have not lessened since September 11, 2001. If anything they have increased markedly. That is why it is in our Nation’s interest to ensure that the United States of America continues to enjoy the most professional, most dedicated, and most effective community of federal law enforcement officers in the world. There is an immediate need for Members of Congress to stand up for Federal law enforcement officers, and to push back against legislation that would strip them of the pay and retirement benefits they have earned and are entitled to by virtue of their service. Bills that would reduce law enforcement pay and benefits, or that would require law enforcement agencies to fall well below their authorized force strength do not take into account the very real and harmful impact such policies would have on the law enforcement mission. Law enforcement agencies cannot be expected to carry out their critical homeland security and criminal justice functions at the same time they are provided with fewer resources to perform them. FLEOA stands ready to work with Congress on those policies that will improve the recruitment and retention of qualified Federal law enforcement officers, and protect their pay and benefits.

Legislation Supported:

--Legislation to allow retiring federal officers to apply their "max-out" LEAPtowards their retirement annuity.

--Legislation to enable federal officers to donate accrued sick leave to those in need, either through a direct transfer or through transfer to an agency wide or government wide sick leave bank.

--Legislation to ensure that law enforcement officers who are disabled in the line of duty prior to reaching age 50 and completing 20 years of creditable service maintain eligibility for "LEO” or "6(c)” retirement benefits.

--Legislation to create a "virtual high three” for those officers who are mandatorily separated upon reaching age 57 during periods of a Federal pay freeze.

--Legislation to enhance the benefits offered to Federal law enforcement officers injured or disabled in the line of duty.

Legislation Opposed:

--H.R. 1470, Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL)—legislation to extend the probationary period applicable to appointments in the civil service from one to two years.

--S. 261, "Federal Employees' Compensation Reform Act of 2011”, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)—Requires federal employees, including law enforcement officers, who are receiving total or partial disability benefits under the Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA) to convert to the federal retirement system when such employees reach retirement age as defined by the Social Security Act and are otherwise eligible for an annuity under FERS or CSRS.

--S. 644, "Public-Private Employee Retirement Parity Act”, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC)—legislation to eliminate the pension benefit component of the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) for any new employee hired after December 31, 2012.

II. Enhancing Federal Law Enforcement Officer Safety

The ranks of federal law enforcement are filled with thousands of individuals who go above and beyond the call of duty each day to keep our nation safe. Unfortunately, all too often these brave men and women must make the ultimate sacrifice in carrying out their sworn duties. In 2010, 11 federal law enforcement officers fell in the line of duty, and we are on track to exceed those numbers in 2011 which has already seen 6 federal officer fatalities. However, nowhere was this violent trend more evident than in the February 15 attack in Mexico in which the Zetas cartel brutally murdered Special Agent Jaime Zapata of the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and critically wounded Special Agent Victor Avila. The most striking aspect of this savage attack was that Special Agent Zapata was unarmed and had no means of protecting himself. This was not a personal choice, but a requirement of his assignment—one which prohibited him from carrying his service weapon. As any law enforcement officer will tell you, the symbols of their authority are their badge and their firearm. Removing one makes an Agent ineffective at best.  At worst, they become a target to those who care very little about the rule of law. FLEOA is committed to addressing the specific issues brought to light in the murder of Agent Zapata, and to supporting legislation that enhances the safety of our nation’s Federal law enforcement officers.

Legislation Supported

--H.R. 365, the "National Blue Alert Act,” Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY)--legislation to encourage, enhance, and integrate Blue Alert plans throughout the United States in order to disseminate information when a law enforcement officer is seriously injured or killed in the line of duty.

--S. 657, the "National Blue Alert Act,” Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD)— the companion to H.R. 365, the legislation would encourage, enhance, and integrate Blue Alert plans throughout the United States in order to disseminate information when a law enforcement officer is seriously injured or killed in the line of duty.

--Legislation to amend the Good Samaritan Act to provide criminal liability protection for Federal law enforcement officers who act to protect public safety while not on duty.

--Legislation authorizing active and retired officers who are qualified under the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004 to fly armed.

--Legislation to provide full diplomatic protection for U.S. Federal law enforcement officers stationed overseas.

--Legislation to strengthen and clarify the rules under which retired federal law enforcement officers are authorized to carry concealed firearms.