Support Statutory Arrest Authority for All Civilian Law Enforcement Officers Employed by the U.S. Department of Defense

The FOP strongly supports changes in Federal law that would grant statutory arrest authority to all civilian law enforcement officers employed by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). To that end, we support language to be included in the DoD reauthorization measures in a section entitled, "MANAGEMENT OF DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE INSTALLATIONS."

The proposed legislation would grant the U.S. Secretary of Defense the same general powers and authorities that were provided to the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security in 2002 when Congress amended section 1315 of title 40, U.S.C. This change in Federal law gave the Secretary of Homeland Security responsibility for all Federal property, regardless of administrative jurisdiction.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has not exercised this authority on DoD installations, nor has it any intention of doing so, as it correctly views protection of DoD property as a responsibility of the DoD. Under the language proposed, the Secretary of Defense will be able to establish regulations that are enforceable by criminal penalties for property under the jurisdiction, custody, or control of the DoD.

The lack of this authority is keenly felt by civilian law enforcement officers employed by the DoD and subsidiary components. It is negatively impacting officer morale and, more importantly, officer safety. For instance, many of the civilian law enforcement officers have to deal with a growing population of non-DoD-affiliated civilians living in privatized housing on DoD installations. Without the statutory arrest authority or the ability to create regulations with criminal penalties, law enforcement officers responding to a call for service cannot make an arrest. They can call local law enforcement, which may or may not respond, but their authority extends only to evicting the individual from the installation—leaving the criminal act unaddressed.

The civilian law enforcement officers employed by the DoD are fully trained and sworn and they should have the authorities that go with that training and not be forced to call officers from another agency. In fact, many DoD installations are remote and contacting local law enforcement is not an option.

Some DoD law enforcement agencies, like the Defense Intelligence Agency Police, sought deputization from the U.S. Marshals Service to empower them to exercise law enforcement powers. Law enforcement officers in the DoD should not have to shop around to non-DoD agencies to get the authorities necessary to carry out their law enforcement mission.

The proposed amendments to Federal law will not affect how offenses against the United States would be prosecuted. Prosecutions would continue to be performed by the United States Attorney's Office, or, for those installations having a Federal Magistrates Program, in U.S. Magistrate's Court on the installation and by DoD attorneys designated for this purpose as Special Assistant United States Attorneys by the local United States Attorney.