U.S. Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-VA-11), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09), Andrew Garbarino (R-NY-02), 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, police officers have not received full access to their federal retirement benefits. After putting their lives on the line for us every day, it is essential we ensure we are protecting and providing for our heroes in law enforcement,” said Rep. Garbarino. “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 men and women in blue.”
“As the author of the recently enacted First Responder Fair RETIRE Act, I know the unintended consequences and potential harm caused by a technical loophole in the law and the importance of closing these loopholes to ensure that our first responders get the benefits they deserve. Federal law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day and should not be denied fair compensation and benefits due to a quirk in the law,” 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.”
“Thousands of federal law enforcement officers are denied the enhanced salary benefits that are given to federal employees, and this bipartisan legislation remedies this problem,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “I’m proud to support our men and women in uniform who put themselves in harm’s way everyday to protect our communities.”
“For far too long, the federal law enforcement officers who risk their lives to protect us have been denied the retirement benefits other officers receive,” said Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), who has led efforts in the Senate to pass this legislation. “This bill will ensure that the brave officers who dedicate their careers to federal law enforcement receive fair compensation for their service and sacrifice.”
“We thank Representatives Pascrell, Garbarino, Connolly, and Fitzpatrick for re-introducing this important legislation, which would close an existing loophole in the law that shortchanges pay and retirement benefits for some federal law enforcement officers based on the agency where they work. This legislative fix would ensure equal treatment for officers AFGE represents at agencies including the Federal Protective Service, Defense and Veterans Affairs departments, and the U.S. Mint,” said Everett Kelley, National President of the American Federation of Government Employees.
“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, which is referred to as 6(c) benefits. But, because of regulatory inconsistencies, nearly 30,000 Federal law enforcement officers do not receive these benefits. The Law Enforcement Officers Equity Act would ensure that all Federal law enforcement officers receive 6(c) retirement benefits. No matter what agency they work for, all Federal law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day. The FOP is grateful to Representatives Pascrell, Garbarino, Connolly and Fitzpatrick for introducing this legislation,” said Patrick Yoes, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police.
“Federal law enforcement officers and agents across some 65 federal agencies undergo similar training, have similar arrest authorities, and use similar investigative techniques tailored to their agency’s mission. Most importantly, they all put their lives on the line for the safety and security of the American people. 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 federal law enforcement due to an archaic definition of what it means to be a ‘law enforcement officer’ under federal retirement law. We applaud Representatives Pascrell, Fitzpatrick, Garbarino, and Connolly for reintroducing the LEO Equity Act to rectify this error and ensure all federal law enforcement are eligible for the benefits they have rightfully earned. At a time when federal law enforcement agencies are struggling to recruit and retain personnel, this bill is absolutely critical. We urge Congress to act on it swiftly,” said Larry Cosme, President of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.
“The Law Enforcement Officers’ Equity Act expands the definition of ‘law enforcement officer’ for retirement purposes to ensure that all federal law enforcement officers, no matter what their classification, are treated equally regarding retirement benefits. With all federal law enforcement officers eligible for the same enhanced retirement benefits, it will improve the ability of agencies to recruit and retain experienced and highly trained officers. This is incredibly important at a time when all law enforcement agencies at the federal, state and local levels are experiencing recruitment and retention issues. NAPO thanks Representatives Pascrell, Fitzpatrick, Garbarino, and Connelly for their leadership on 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 Officers' Equity Act:
- Provides 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.