For decades tens of thousands of Federal law-enforcement officers, who work for the U.S. Postal Service and other agencies have gotten inferior pay and pension benefits compared to other Federal police officers doing the same work because of an outdated and obscure statute lawmakers and their union say.
Nearly 30,000 Federal law-enforcement officers are classified as “GS-0083 police officers” which do not receive enhanced retirement benefits. This cohort includes officers who work for Federal agencies including Department of Veterans Affairs, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Defense, U.S. Mint, and the National Institute of Health, and several other agencies.
Now, under to the pending Law Enforcement Officers’ Equity Act, a bi-partisan proposal, those officers could have their status elevated to be on par with their colleagues who for years have enjoyed more generous retirement benefits.
‘Shouldn’t Have to Die’
“These law-enforcement professionals are trained to use and carry authorized firearms, yet they are only considered law-enforcement officers when they are killed in the line of duty and their names are inscribed on the wall of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial,” American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. said in a statement. “They serve and protect the public every single day, and they deserve to be recognized as law enforcement officers and receive the same retirement benefits as all other federal officers."
The measure has been introduced in the Senate by Cory Booker of New Jersey and Rob Portman of Ohio and in the House by Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey and Rep. Peter King of New York.
“It’s not right that incredibly brave law-enforcement officers working in Federal agencies from the U.S. Postal Service to the Department of Veterans Affairs have been shouldering virtually the same responsibilities as other federal law-enforcement officers, but with lower retirement benefits,” Mr. Booker said.
“The men and women who serve, protect, and put their lives on the line for us day in and day out deserve our utmost respect,” Mr. Portman said. "Unfortunately, right now, some Federal law-enforcement officers are not receiving the benefits that they deserve. It's a disservice to them and it discourages young people from stepping up to serve."
“The existence of pervasive disparities from federal agency to federal agency amongst our law enforcement officers is wrong,” Mr. Pascrell said. “These brave men and women basically do the same job but do not receive the same benefits.”
The Law Enforcement Officers’ Equity Act would expand the definition of “law-enforcement officer” for retirement benefits to include all GS-0083 officers. That change would grant law- enforcement-officer status to; employees who are authorized to carry a firearm and whose duties include the investigation and apprehension of suspected criminals; employees of the Internal Revenue Service whose duties are primarily the collection of delinquent taxes and securing delinquent returns; and employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs who are department police officers.
The legislation would apply to current and future Federal law-enforcement officers.
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