A bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. reintroduced legislation expanding retirement benefits for police officers.
The pending legislation, referenced as the “Law Enforcement Officers’ Equity Act” is cosponsored by Reps. Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA).
Pascrell commented that during the pandemic,”our law enforcement officers have stood heroically on the frontlines keeping communities across America safe.”
Expand Retirement Benefits
“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,” said the 86-year-old lawmaker and co-chair of the House Law Enforcement Caucus. “They risk their lives the same as their brothers and sisters and any less remuneration for their service is unacceptable. Our bipartisan legislation would finally fix this loophole.”
While all federal police officers are officially classified as “law enforcement officers” for the purpose of determining salary requirements along with retirement benefits, not all are treated equally, even though they perform the exact same function and take the exact same risks as their more celebrated and recognizable counterpart.
For example, under current law more than 30,000 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, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, among others do not receive equal pay and retirement benefits.
Pascrell’ bipartisan legislation referenced as the “Law Enforcement Officers’ Equity Act,” would remedy those discrepancies, by providing the following:
- Federal officers with retirement benefits after 20 years of service at the age of 50, or after 25 years of service, can retire at any age.
- Law enforcement officers currently employed as federal police officers after the enactment of this Act will be considered service performed as a law enforcement officer for retirement purposes.
- The Act broadens the definition of “law enforcement officer” to include all GS-0083 officers. That change would grant the law enforcement officer retirement benefits, including the following: law enforcement personnel who are authorized to carry firearms and whose duties include investigations and the apprehension of suspected criminals; IRS agents responsible for the collection delinquent taxes and securing delinquent returns; and employees of U.S. Postal Inspection Service and employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs who are department police officers.
Garbarino said the legislation was needed as police officers “for too long” 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 the New York Republican. “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, Connolly offered he knows the “unintended consequences and potential harm” caused by a technical loophole in the law and the importance of closing these loopholes to ensure 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,” he stated.