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Pascrell, Garbarino, Connolly, Fitzpatrick Move to Expand Law Enforcement Retirement Benefits

Bipartisan bill will eliminate loophole, expand coverage for federal police officers

U.S. Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09), Andrew Garbarino (R-NY-02), Gerry Connolly (D-VA-11) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01) have reintroduced the Law Enforcement Officers’ Equity Act, bipartisan legislation that will guarantee that police officers across the federal government receive their full retirement benefits. Because of a loophole in the law, thousands of federal law enforcement officers cannot receive enhanced retirement benefits. This legislation would expand and secure full federal benefits to tens of thousands of officers.

“During this devastating pandemic, our law enforcement officers have stood heroically on the frontlines keeping communities across America safe,” said Rep. Pascrell, the co-chair of the House Law Enforcement Caucus. “Because of an unfair distinction in our laws, tens of thousands of men and women in uniform do not have full access to federal retirement benefits. They risk their lives the same as their brothers and sisters and any less renumeration for their service is unacceptable. Our bipartisan legislation would finally fix this loophole so these federal officers are compensated fully for their service.”

“For too long, men and women in uniform have not received full access to their federal retirement benefits. After putting their lives on the line during a global pandemic to keep our communities safe, it is more important than ever to ensure we are protecting and providing for our heroes in law enforcement. I am proud to join my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to fix this loophole in the law, and expand full federal benefits to our police officers,” said Rep. Garbarino

“Federal law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day and shouldn’t be penalized due to a technical loophole,” said Rep. Connolly. “I am proud to support this vital legislation and thank Reps. Pascrell, Garbarino and Fitzpatrick for their leadership in fighting to restore full benefits to these heroes.”

"My great-uncle was a proud patrolman with the NYPD who was shot while attempting to disarm a robber at a Manhattan bar–a fatal injury he succumbed to days later. Law enforcement officers, like my Uncle Phil, who put their lives on the line daily are heroes—now especially, more than ever," said Rep. Fitzpatrick. "Our bipartisan Law Enforcement Officers Equity Act will finally close the unjust loophole in our law that has resulted in second-class status for so many of our nation's federal officers. All men and women in uniform who serve our communities and country deserve to be fully and fairly compensated for their heroic service. Our federal officers deserve our full support, and I am proud to reintroduce this legislation with Reps. Pascrell, Garbarino, and Connolly to make sure that we have the backs of each of our everyday heroes.”

“Federal law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities and our national institutions,” said U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, who has led efforts in the Senate to pass this legislation. “Despite this, many of these officers do not receive the retirement benefits they deserve for their sacrifice. It is beyond time that Congress ensures that all law enforcement officers receive fair compensation for their service. It is our obligation to protect those who protect us.”

“On behalf of the 700,000 federal and D.C. government employees AFGE represents, including tens of thousands of law enforcement professionals, I sincerely thank Representatives Bill Pascrell Jr., Gerry Connolly, Brian Fitzpatrick, and Andrew Garbarino for reintroducing the Law Enforcement Officer Equity Act. Passage of this bipartisan legislation would close a loophole that has resulted in second-class status for many federal law enforcement officers, ensuring they are treated equally when it comes to setting their pay rates and qualifying for full retirement benefits. These inequities have resulted in higher turnover and lower employee morale at agencies that are unable to offer comparable pay and benefits. AFGE looks forward to working with Congress to ensure passage of this important legislation,” said Everett Kelley, American Federation of Government Employees National President.

“These dedicated men and women put their lives on the line as law enforcement officers,” said Patrick Yoes, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police. “Due to their high level of training and the dangerous nature of the profession, Congress rightfully determined that Federal law enforcement officers should receive enhanced salary and retirement benefits compared to other Federal employees. However, nearly 30,000 GS-0083 Federal law enforcement officers do not receive these benefits. The FOP is thankful to Representatives Pascrell, Garbarino, Connolly and Fitzpatrick for introducing this legislation which would expand the definition of ‘law enforcement officer’ for retirement benefits to include all Federal law enforcement officers, recognizing that these GS-0083 officers are as highly trained as their colleagues and that they should be treated the same way.” 

“Every day, federal law enforcement officers and agents across some 65 federal agencies place themselves in harm’s way for the security and wellbeing of all Americans. These individuals undergo similar training, have similar arrest authorities, and similar investigative techniques tailored to the needs of their agency. Despite the many things that unify federal law enforcement regardless of agency, there is a great divide between the pay and benefits available to certain law enforcement employees due to an archaic definition of what it means to be a ‘law enforcement officer’ under federal retirement law. FLEOA believes no federal law enforcement officer or agent should receive less benefits due to an outdated system. We deeply appreciate Representative Pascrell for introducing the Law Enforcement Officer Equity Act to rectify this error in law and ensure all federal law enforcement are eligible for the benefits they have rightfully earned,” said Larry Cosme, President of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.

“The Law Enforcement Officers Equity Act is important because it ensures that all federal law enforcement officers are treated equally regarding retirement benefits.  It will also improve the ability of agencies to recruit and retain experienced officers.  This bill will ensure that officers across the country receive the benefits that they have earned.  NAPO thanks Representative Pascrell for his key role with this important legislation,” said Bill Johnson, Executive Director of the National Association of Police Organizations.

While many federal officials are classified as “law enforcement officers” for the purposes of determining salary and retirement benefits, various other federal officers do not have this status.  Under current law, more than 30,000 officers do not receive equal pay and retirement benefits – including officers in the U.S. Postal Police, Federal Protective Service, Department of Defense, FBI, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Veterans Administration, U.S. Mint, Government Publishing Office, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, among others.

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.
  • 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:
    • employees who are authorized to carry a firearm and whose duties include the investigation and/or apprehension of suspected criminals;
    • employees of the Internal Revenue Service whose duties are primarily the collection delinquent taxes and securing delinquent returns;
    • employees of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and
    • employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs who are department police officers.
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