Washington, D.C. – The House Judiciary Committee today approved by voice vote the Protecting Officers of the Law in Civilian Establishments Act of 2017 (H.R. 2561), the POLICE Act. This bill, authored by Congressman Trey Hollingsworth (R-Ind.), improves current law to ensure law enforcement officers have the ability to protect themselves.
Attacks against police officers continue to rise across the country. For instance, in July 2016, police officers in Dallas, Texas were ambushed and fired upon, resulting in the death of five police officers and injuring another nine. Ten days later, six police officers were shot in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Three officers died and three were hospitalized. And just last month, two sheriffs’ deputies were gunned down eating at a Chinese food restaurant in a suspected ambush in Gainesville, Florida.
Under existing law, even uniformed state and local police officers must remove their firearms before entering federal public facilities when not responding to an emergency, making them vulnerable to attack and potentially unable to adequately respond to developing situations. To ensure law enforcement officers have the ability to defend themselves and keep the public safe, the POLICE Act permits uniformed law enforcement officers to carry agency-issued firearms in certain publically accessible federal facilities.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Congressman Hollingsworth praised today’s approval of the POLICE Act in the statements below.
Chairman Goodlatte: “Attacks on law enforcement officers have escalated in recent years and we must continually revisit our laws to ensure they are effective in protecting the lives of those who wear the badge and serve our communities daily. Unfortunately, federal law requires the very law enforcement officers entrusted to protect and respond during a crisis to disarm when entering a federal building if they are not responding to an emergency situation. This places officers in significant danger considering that uniformed law enforcement officers already are highly visible targets to those wishing to cause harm to men and women in uniform.
“The POLICE Act remedies this problem by allowing uniformed law enforcement officers to carry their firearm in federal facilities at all times, not just in emergency situations. I thank Congressman Hollingsworth for introducing this bill and am pleased the Committee has passed it today.”
Congressman Hollingsworth: “Our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to protect us. The POLICE Act removes a double standard so police officers can better protect themselves and the communities they serve.”
Additional Background: This week, the House of Representatives passed four Judiciary Committee bills designed to honor the sacrifices made by law enforcement officers and ensure they have the tools needed to do their job and keep the public safe.