Leahy-Authored Bill To Improve Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act Set To Become Law

WASHINGTON (Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010) – Legislation authored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to make improvements to the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) is set to become law, following a vote by the House of Representatives this evening.  The bill was passed unanimously by the Senate in May, and will now be sent to the President to be signed into law.

The Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act Improvements Act will address certain parts of the LEOSA certification process, making it more flexible for active and qualified retired officers and providing more uniform standards for eligibility.  Leahy was a lead author of the original Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act, which permits active and qualified retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed firearms across state lines.  It was signed into law in 2004. 

“Since LEOSA was enacted, many retired officers have experienced substantial difficulty in gaining the benefits intended by the law,” said Leahy.  “We listened carefully to the feedback and advice from those in the law enforcement community to make the existing law stronger and more workable in a responsible and measured way.  I am pleased the LEOSA Improvements Act will now finally become law.”

Law enforcement organizations including the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Association of Police Organizations, and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association have expressed support for the bill.  Leahy is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which approved the bipartisan legislation in March.

The Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act Improvements Act will provide flexibility for retired officers to meet firearms testing requirements necessary for LEOSA; will reduce the years of service required for a former law enforcement officer to qualify from 15 years to 10 years; and will provide clear standards and procedures concerning mental health issues and LEOSA certification.

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Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee,

On The Passage Of The Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act Improvements Act Of 2010

Senate Floor

September 29, 2010

Today the House of Representatives passed the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act Improvements Act of 2010, which passed the Senate unanimously in May.  I applaud the leadership of the House for taking up this legislation, which is of great importance to the law enforcement community.  Today’s action brings to a successful conclusion the good work of Senators and Representatives who have helped move this legislation through both chambers, and builds upon the bipartisan Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act that was enacted in 2004. 

I want to recognize the long-standing efforts and strong support of the Fraternal Order of Police, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, and the National Association of Police Organizations, along with many others in the broader law enforcement community.  Their support and assistance contributed greatly to today’s success.  I also thank the Judiciary Committee’s Ranking Member Senator Sessions, Senator Kyl, and Senator Conrad for their cosponsorship.  

This legislation will assist qualified Federal, State, and local law enforcement officers in exercising their privileges related to the interstate concealed carry of firearms under existing law more easily and efficiently.  The legislation will give active duty officers and qualified retired officers more flexibility in obtaining the necessary credentials in several important ways and will overcome some of the challenges that retired officers have faced in the past in obtaining certification.  The legislation will also remove some of the administrative pressure on law enforcement agencies by allowing the required firearms qualification testing of retired officers to be done by a private firearms instructor who is certified to test active duty officers in his or her jurisdiction, and at the officer’s own expense.  And it will give law enforcement agencies more certainty and authority when determining whether a retired officer suffers from mental health issues sufficient to disqualify that officer from certification under the law. 

I have great confidence in the men and women in law enforcement who put their own lives on the line to serve their fellow citizens every day.  This confidence extends to these men and women whether they are on the job or off duty.  I trust in them and their proven ability to exercise the firearm privileges provided under the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act responsibly, and with the same solemnity with which they approach their official duties. 

I have said many times that Congress’s efforts to assist state and local law enforcement are a crucial part of our Federal policy and a policy that pays dividends in our overall capability to protect the citizens of the United States.  State and local law enforcement officers are the first line of defense and support in America’s communities, and for that they deserve the recognition and continued support of Congress.  And we must also recognize the men and women who serve as law enforcement officers throughout the Federal Government, for whom this legislation will also provide benefits.  Federal officers play an indispensible role in the Federal system and in important partnerships with state and local officials around the country.   I am glad that the improvements we have worked for over the last several years will finally be enacted and I look forward to hearing about the positive changes that will come.  

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