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Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Madam President, I rise in support of S. 1793, the Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act of 2012, which I introduced.

This commonsense bill clarifies that--upon the request of appropriate State and local law enforcement officials--select Federal law enforcement agencies may use their unique capabilities to help investigate and respond to mass killings and other violent crimes.

The measure will provide important clarity to Federal law enforcement officers who are called on by State and local counterparts to assist in response to a mass shooting or other violent crime at a college campus, shopping mall, office building, or other public place. Currently, the FBI and select other Federal agencies often provide requested assistance to State and local law enforcement in these types of cases. The absence of an explicit authorizing statute, however, has created concern that agents responding to these violent crimes could be held liable even though their only goal was to protect the public.

This bill makes sure that the FBI, other law enforcement components at the Justice Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Secret Service can provide State and local law enforcement officers with assistance when so requested. In so doing, it will help State and law enforcement protect victims and solve these terrible crimes.

The bill does not expand the jurisdiction of Federal law enforcement agencies. Assistance from a Federal agency must be requested by the State or local authority and agreed to by Federal authorities. And the bill does not impose new criminal penalties or regulations.

The House passed a companion measure, H.R. 207, last year by a vote of 358 to 9. The Senate bill was reported out of the Judiciary Committee last November, and I thank Chairman LEAHY for his leadership in moving this legislation through Committee. Since then, I have worked with Chairman LEAHY, Senator GRASSLEY, Chairman SMITH of the House Judiciary Committee, and Representative GOWDY to improve the bill, and we have reached an agreement that is reflected in a substitute amendment.

I urge colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this measure, so we can ensure that our dedicated law enforcement officials can respond to and solve these tragic crimes.

I yield the floor.

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