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Public Statements

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 - Resumed

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. LEAHY. Madam President, I was very pleased that the Senate adopted last night an amendment to improve the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act, LEOSA. I was pleased to join Senator Webb, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, as a cosponsor to strengthen a policy that is important to our Nation's law enforcement community. I thank Chairman Levin and Senator Webb for their efforts.

The amendment we adopt today will place military police and civilian police officers within the Department of Defense on equal footing with their law enforcement counterparts across the country when it comes to coverage under LEOSA. The LEOSA law permits active and qualified retired law enforcement officers to carry a concealed firearm across State lines. This law, which has been in place since 2004, gives our law enforcement officers, should they choose, the peace of mind that they are protected wherever they may be.

One of the qualifications required of active or retired officers to be covered by the LEOSA law is that they must have ``statutory arrest authority''. Some law enforcement personnel within the Department of Defense do have such statutory arrest authority. Others do not. For example, civilian police officers that conduct law enforcement activities on military bases or installations derive their authority from the Uniform Code of Military Justice. This authority, while statutory, is ``apprehension'' authority. Due to that difference between the LEOSA law's specific enumerated requirements, and the authority pursuant to which civilian police in the military operate, these law enforcement officers have not been able to obtain the law's benefits.

To remedy this, the amendment we have adopted will expressly include within the LEOSA statute currently non-covered civilian police officers and military police. It will do so by adding a statutory citation within Title 18 of the United States Code to the relevant portion of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. This will provide legal certainty for the Department of Defense, and will provide the needed LEOSA coverage for currently non-covered law enforcement personnel within the military.

The Senate has agreed unanimously to extend LEOSA to the law enforcement officers that serve within our military who are currently not eligible for coverage under LEOSA. They are no less deserving or worthy of this privilege and I am very pleased we have acted to equalize their treatment under the Federal law. Given the productive discussions we have had with the Department of Defense Office of Law Enforcement Policy and Support, and with Chairman Levin in developing this amendment. I expect that it will be implemented without delay so that those intended to be covered may gain the law's benefit quickly. These police officers, who largely perform the same duties as their counterparts elsewhere in the Federal Government and at the State and local level, deserve the equal treatment this amendment will provide.

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