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S. 2309, the Eric Williams Corr Off Prot Act

May 19, 2014

The Honorable Patrick Toomey
U.S. Senate
248 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Toomey:

The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), the nation's largest, non‐partisan federal law enforcement association, is proud to support S. 2309, the Eric Williams Correctional Officer Protection Act of 2014. 

The bill is named after Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Officer Eric Williams, who was murdered at US Prison Caanan on February 25, 2013 after being savagely attacked by a homicidal inmate. At that time, Williams was working alone and unarmed, which is the case with many Officer assignments.

This bill, a matter of common sense and officer safety, would authorize all Officers and employees of BOP who are required to respond to an emergency situation the ability to carry OC spray (a/k/a pepper spray) in medium security prisons and above.  The bill would also mandate an evaluation of issuing OC spray to Officers and employees of BOP that are in minimum security prisons.

Our federal prisons are often filled with the worst of the worst, most of which are placed there by FLEOA Members. It is a dangerous dynamic to not allow BOP Officers the same tools private security employees are required to carry at some federal facilities.

Our BOP Officers are on the fatal front line of incarcerating and rehabilitating the federal prison population. They are also guardians of keeping the American public, other civilian BOP employees and themselves safe from further harm that could be committed by these individuals.

FLEOA supports this bill and would recommend further steps to properly equip our BOP Officers with self‐defense tools such as trigger locked Taser devices to give them a tactical edge when confronted by dangerous inmates. The Taser, similar to OC Spray, is an intermediate weapon that provides Officers with a "less‐than‐lethal" option in controlling assaultive inmates. BOP Officers are confronted with the real prospect of violence every day and they should be able to defend themselves as they carry out their formidable mission.

BOP Officers swear an oath to protect and defend the American public but nowhere in that oath does it stipulate being unprepared or placed at fatal risk. As prison populations grow, and Officer staffing levels decrease, we need to recognize the priority of ensuring our BOP Officers are properly equipped.

Respectfully,

Jon Adler
National President