05.14.10

Senate Unanimously Passes Leahy-Authored Bill To Improve Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act

WASHINGTON – The Senate Thursday night unanimously passed legislation authored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to improve the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA).  Leahy was a lead author of LEOSA, which permits active and qualified retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed firearms across state lines.  The Act was originally signed into law in 2004.

Leahy introduced the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act Improvements Act in May 2009.  He steered the bipartisan legislation through the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he chairs, in March.  The Judiciary Committee twice approved the legislation in the last Congress, but the full Senate failed to act on the measure.  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.

“The amendments we pass today will make the original law’s operation more efficient while maintaining the rigorous standards that apply to those who seek its benefits,” said Leahy in a statement Thursday night.  “It will ensure that law enforcement officers who have served honorably and who are now retired will have flexibility in achieving the law’s benefits and privileges, which Congress determined that they deserve.”

This week, the nation recognizes Police Week.  On Tuesday, the Senate unanimously adopted a resolution authored by Leahy to designate May 15, 2010, as Peace Officers Memorial Day.

“It is especially appropriate that we pass this legislation this week at a time when tens of thousands of law enforcement officers are in the Nation’s Capital to honor and remember their fellow officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty,” said Leahy of the Senate’s action of the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act Improvements Act.

Among other provisions, the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act Improvements Act will provide flexibility for retired officers to meet the firearms testing requirements necessary for LEOSA certification, reduce from 15 to 10 years the required years of service for a former law enforcement officer to qualify under the current law, and amend the current law to provide clear standards and procedures concerning mental health issues and LEOSA certification. The legislation is supported by the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Association of Police Organizations, and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. 

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Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee,
On The Passage Of S.1132,
The Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act Improvements Act Of 2010
Senate Floor
May 13, 2010

I thank all Senators for joining me in support of the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act Improvements Act of 2010.  Passage of this legislation demonstrates the Senate’s strong bipartisan support of all the men and women who serve in law enforcement roles in the United States.  I thank the Judiciary Committee’s Ranking Member Senator Sessions, Senator Kyl, and Senator Conrad for joining me as cosponsors of this legislation.

In March, for the third time since 2007, the Senate Judiciary Committee favorably reported legislation making needed improvements to the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004, which allows qualified active and retired law enforcement officers to obtain certification to carry firearms across state lines.  I am very pleased that the Senate has at last given its approval to these important improvements to the original law. 

In 2004, Congress passed the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act.  I worked with Senator Ben Nighthorse-Campbell and 68 other Senators to show our strong support for the Nation’s law enforcement community.  Since enactment, however, many retired officers have experienced substantial difficulty in gaining the benefits the law was intended to confer.  I 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 especially thank the Fraternal Order of Police, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, and the National Association of Police Organizations for their strong support. 

The amendments we pass today will make the original law’s operation more efficient while maintaining the rigorous standards that apply to those who seek its benefits.  It will ensure that law enforcement officers who have served honorably and who are now retired will have flexibility in achieving the law’s benefits and privileges, which Congress determined that they deserve. 

It is especially appropriate that we pass this legislation this week at a time when tens of thousands of law enforcement officers are in the Nation’s Capital to honor and remember their fellow officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.  As I do each year, and in recognition of the ceremonies in Washington, I introduced a resolution to officially recognize May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day.  The Senate unanimously adopted that resolution.  All of the men and women who serve and who are in Washington to remember and celebrate their fallen fellow officers should know that the Senate recognizes the extraordinary work they do on behalf of all Americans.

I thank all Senators who supported this measure, and express my deep appreciation for the sacrifices and service of all of the men and women who give so much in the service of their fellow citizens.

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