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Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Unknown


Mr. GOWDY. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Speaker, violent crimes, especially mass killings, are often unpredictable and impulsive. The venues are random. The jurisdictions where these crimes take place include the smallest of towns, the least likely places for crimes of this magnitude and this depravity.

When we were drafting this bill months ago, Madam Speaker, of course we had hoped against hope that it would not be needed--not so soon, at least. We hoped it would sit on the sidelines, available but unused. Sadly, this is not the culture we live in, Madam Speaker. We have recently witnessed another example of the depth to which the human condition can sink.

In times like these, when State and local resources are stretched, Federal law enforcement is ready, willing, and able to assist. Indeed, they do assist, but they do so without statutory coverage. The manner and method of the assistance, Madam Speaker, is vast and varied. Most local police departments do not have criminal profilers. They may not have quick access to a world-class forensic lab, grand jury subpoenas, or the experience that comes from handling similar investigations in the past.

Law enforcement, Madam Speaker, is a particularly close-knit community, with State, local, and Federal agents working together sharing resources and expertise, working under very difficult circumstances to prevent crimes or quickly investigate and apprehend afterwards those who commit such crimes.

Madam Speaker, I have seen in my own prior career in South Carolina the willingness of Federal law enforcement to assist in kidnappings, murders, arson, and robberies.

Tragically, our country has seen the need for Federal law enforcement to assist in places as disparate as movie theaters, college campuses, and even elementary schools.

Federal law enforcement agencies and officers do not currently have specific statutory authority to assist in the investigations of mass killings, attempted mass killings, or other violent crimes that occur. Federal law enforcement officers frequently receive emergency requests for such assistance from State and local law enforcement agencies. And while this assistance is routinely provided, Madam Speaker, it is possible that Federal officers who provide such assistance could be found to be acting outside their scope of employment.

To correct this problem, H.R. 2076 specifically allows certain Federal agents to provide State and local law enforcement with the assistance requested when the violent act does not otherwise appear to violate Federal law. These Federal agents come from agencies such as the FBI, DEA, ATF, U.S. Marshal Service, Secret Service, and ICE. And while we hope and pray, Madam Speaker, and take affirmative steps to prevent such similar crimes in the future, this bill ensures that State and local police now can at least request the assistance of Federal law enforcement officers in similar situations, and do so fully covered by the law. This bill allows Federal law enforcement officers to provide an emergency response to critical situations where violent crimes have occurred or may remain in progress.

This bill is not an expansion, Madam Speaker, of Federal authority and does not expand the jurisdiction of any Federal law enforcement agency in any manner whatsoever. Any law enforcement assistance must be requested by a State or local authority and agreed to by the Federal authorities.

Last year, Madam Speaker, this bill passed the Judiciary Committee in the House with broad bipartisan support. Earlier this month, the Senate passed, by unanimous consent, this bill. This bill is supported by the FBI Agents Association and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.

Madam Speaker, I urge my colleagues to concur in the Senate's amendment to this bill so that it may be sent to the President for his signature, and I reserve the balance of my time.


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