09.27.05

Dreier, Schiff Introduces "Justice for Peace Officiers Act"

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman David Dreier (R-CA), Chairman of the House Rules Committee, and Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, introduced an updated version of the Peace Officer Justice Act today. The new bill, the Justice for Peace Officers Act incorporates changes suggested by the law enforcement community. The new legislation will still make it a federal crime to murder a peace officer and flee the country, but it also includes increased penalties and gives state and local authorities priority to prosecute suspected cop killers who flee the U.S. Dreier and Schiff introduced the original legislation in May with the support of Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca.

"This new and improved bill reflects a commitment at every level of government to pursuing justice for those who pursue it for us," Dreier said. "Our first priority is to keep prosecution of these crimes at the state and/or local level. We view this bill as a complement to those efforts. Enhanced penalties for the crime of killing a peace officer and fleeing, along with greater specificity on who should prosecute first, makes this a stronger, better bill."

"Working together, federal, state, and local law enforcement will use every tool available to bring murderers back to the United States for prosecution," Schiff said. "The Justice for Peace Officers Act provides prosecutors the best opportunity to bring justice for families of slain officers."

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca expressed support for the new legislation. "Congressmen Dreier and Schiff have stepped up to the plate again with this legislation," he said. "They heard from law enforcement about how to make a good bill even better, and I applaud them for their continued commitment to justice for our officers and their families."

Like the original Peace Officer Justice Act, the new legislation makes it a federal crime to kill a federal, state, or local peace officer and flee the country, punishable by death or life imprisonment under first degree murder. It also raises the punishment for second degree murder by making such an act punishable by a minimum of 30 years or life imprisonment. The new bill also makes the punishment for aiding and abetting the flight of a suspected peace officer killer a minimum of 15 years. Current law on this charge is a maximum of 15 years. Additionally, the bill makes any terms of imprisonment imposed under this bill consecutive to any other sentence imposed by a federal or state court. The legislation gives priority to state and/or local prosecutors to pursue cop killers who flee the country and contains specific language to ensure that nothing in the bill supersedes their authority. It also urges the Secretary of State to enter into formal discussions with the Mexican government on the U.S.-Mexico Extradition treaty.

Congressman Schiff is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles and the co-founder of the Democratic Study Group on National Security.  He is a member of both the House Judiciary and International Relations committees.  He represents California’s 29th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Alhambra, Altadena, Burbank, East Pasadena, East San Gabriel, Glendale, Monterey Park, Pasadena, San Gabriel, South Pasadena and Temple City.