Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today delivered the following statement during the Committee’s markup of the POLICE Act (H.R. 2561). This bill, introduced by Representative Trey Hollingsworth (R-Ind.), improves current law to ensure law enforcement officers have the ability to protect themselves.

Chairman Goodlatte: Today, I am pleased to consider for markup H.R. 2561, the Protecting Officers of the Law in Civilian Establishments Act of 2017, or the POLICE Act.  The POLICE Act was introduced a year ago this Saturday by Representative Trey Hollingsworth.

We are all too familiar with the spate of attacks plaguing law enforcement officers across this nation.  Our law enforcement officers are facing increasing levels of hostility and violence, fueled by a growing anti-police sentiment.  This is why we saw the Protect and Serve Act receive overwhelming support by the House yesterday.

Piggybacking off of that effort, Congress should be examining ways to ensure that if attacked, law enforcement officers have the means to defend themselves. Unfortunately, however, under existing law, uniformed state and local police officers must remove their firearms before entering federal public facilities when not responding to an emergency or acting in an official capacity.  This makes them vulnerable to attack and potentially unable to adequately respond to developing situations should they arise.

Just like the rest of us, law enforcement officers are often required to take care of personal business in the middle of the work day or immediately before or after their shifts.  These can include medical appointments or even paperwork appointments.

Regrettably, federal law requires the same police officers, entrusted to protect our communities and respond during an emergency, to disarm when they enter into public buildings.  This places these 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 solution is simple, and it is before us today.  H.R. 2561 amends federal law to modify the restriction on possessing a firearm in a federal facility, so the prohibition will not apply to the lawful carrying of agency-issued firearms by a uniformed law enforcement officer in certain publicly-accessible federal facilities.

This is a narrow, common-sense solution to a problem that puts law enforcement in dangerous situations.

I urge my colleagues to support this important measure.