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Booker, Mikulski Introduce Legislation to Protect Federal Law Enforcement Officers’ Retirement Benefits

May 19, 2016
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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Barbra Mikulski (D-MD) today introduced the Law Enforcement Officers’ Equity Act, legislation that would ensure all federal law enforcement officers receive the retirement benefits they deserve for their service. Due to the level of training required and greater danger present in their profession, Congress determined that people in federal law enforcement positions should receive higher salaries and enhanced retirement benefits compared to other federal employees.  Currently, certain federal law enforcement officers are not eligible for enhanced benefits even though they perform the same tasks as other law enforcement officers. This important legislation would fix this existing loophole in federal law and expand access to federal benefits to more men and women in uniform.

“Every day our federal law enforcement officers serve and protect our communities and our most important national institutions. Unfortunately, due to a loophole in federal law, some law enforcement officers do not receive the full retirement benefits they deserve. That’s why it’s time we fix this error and ensure all federal law enforcement officers are compensated fairly for their service,” Sen. Booker said. “This bill would grant all federal officers the same benefits as their colleagues. By offering fair and equal compensation, we honor their daily sacrifice and devotion to protecting public safety.”

“Our federal law enforcement are our country’s first line of defense against terrorism and the smuggling of illegal drugs at our border. They face the same risks and challenges as other law enforcement and deserve the same retirement and pension benefits,” Sen. Mikulski said. “We must honor their commitment and sacrifice by ensuring federal law enforcement officers receive the pay and benefits they have earned and deserve. By righting this wrong, we will honor our commitment to those who keep us safe, and continue to recruit and retain top-quality officers.”  

Unfortunately, nearly 30,000 federal law enforcement officers classified as GS-0083 police officers do not receive enhanced retirement benefits under the United States Code even though they have similar responsibilities and face similar risks as officers who do. This categorization includes certain officers who work for federal agencies like the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Postal Service, U.S. Mint, National Institute of Health and many more.

Correcting this error is not only dictated by fairness, but it is a matter of public safety because the value of recruiting and retaining experienced and highly trained law enforcement officers is immeasurable.

 

Specifically, the Law Enforcement Equity Act,

 

·         provides our brave federal officers with 6(c) retirement benefits and the ability to retire after 20 years of service at the age of 50, or after 25 years of service at any age.

·         allows incumbent law enforcement officers federal service after the enactment of this Act to be considered service performed as a law enforcement officer for retirement purposes.

 

·         requires these incumbent law enforcement officers past service to be treated as service performed as a law enforcement officer for retirement purposes only if a written election is submitted to the Office of Personnel Management within five years after the enactment of this Act or before separation from government service, whichever is earlier.

 

·         expands the definition of “law enforcement officer” for retirement benefits to include all GS-0083 officers. That change would grant law enforcement officer status to the following:

 

o   employees who are authorized to carry a firearm and whose duties include the investigation and/or apprehension of suspected criminals;

 

o   employees of the Internal Revenue Service whose duties are primarily the collection delinquent taxes and securing delinquent returns;

 

o   employees of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and

 

o   employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs who are department police officers.

 

The bill is supported by The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association,The National Association of Police Organizations, and The National Treasury Employees Union, The Postal Police Officers Association.