Dreier, Schiff Introduce "Peace Officer Justice Act"
L.A. Sheriff Baca, La Verne Chief of Police Ingels Offer Support for bill
WASHINGTON, DC - Congressman David Dreier (R-CA) and Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) were joined by Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and La Verne, California Chief of Police Ronald Ingels today as they introduced the "Peace Officer Justice Act", H.R. 2363. The legislation will make it a federal crime to murder a peace officer and flee the country. A peace officer is defined as any officer of the United States, a State, or a political subdivision of a State who is empowered by law to conduct investigations of or to make arrests for offenses against the criminal laws of the United States, the State, or the political subdivision.
"Local and state law enforcement are on the front lines every day defending our communities, and in some cases, our country," Dreier said. "With the global war on terror ongoing, we need to recognize the tremendously important role local and state law enforcement play in that fight. We believe those who kill law enforcement and flee the country are committing a crime against this country and should be prosecuted for it."
"Criminals who murder law enforcement officers must not be allowed to evade justice by fleeing across our borders," said Schiff. "Since my days as a federal prosecutor I have been frustrated and angered by the inability to go after those who murder law enforcement officers and leave the country with impunity. This bill will give prosecutors and law enforcement new tools to bring to justice those who commit the most heinous crimes and seek refuge elsewhere."
Under current law, murder is a crime triable in state courts, with a few exceptions, such as committing the crime on government property. The "Peace Officer Justice Act" makes it a federal crime to murder a peace officer and flee the country, providing concurrent jurisdiction for the federal government to prosecute the suspect. The bill would ensure that criminal who murder law enforcement officials and flee the country to avoid prosecution will have the full weight of the federal government on their trail. It would also provide another "tool in the tool box" of prosecutors seeking to exact justice on these criminals. Under Title 18 USC 1073, it is already a federal crime to flee to another state or foreign country to avoid prosecution. The Peace Officer Justice Act simply extends this concept by making it a federal crime to kill a peace officer and flee the country. The legislation was introduced today because it is National Police Week, and Sunday, May 15, was the annual National Peace Officer Memorial Day, which recognizes peace officers that have died in the line of duty.