Contact: Tim Kauffman
DoD has failed to implement provisions from Congress, White House to improve working conditions for law enforcement officers, firefighters
WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees is calling on the Department of Defense to comply with multiple legislative and executive mandates affecting law enforcement professionals and other first responders.
“DoD has been dragging its feet for too long on a number of changes meant to improve working conditions for law enforcement officers and other first responders on military bases across the country,” AFGE National President Everett Kelley said. “These reforms already have been passed by Congress or ordered by the White House. It’s long past time for DoD to put these changes into effect.”
Legislation passed as far back as 2021 still has not been implemented by the department. Under Section 1110 of the fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Congress directed federal agencies to allow firefighters to trade shifts with their colleagues.
The Office of Personnel Management issued a detailed policy memo last December instructing agencies how to apply the new benefit, yet DoD has failed to implement this policy – meaning DoD firefighters don’t have access to one of the benefits Congress approved for them.
“Recruitment and retention within the ranks of the federal fire service are suffering due the lack of comparable pay and benefits,” said Brandon Hartzog, a 15-year federal firefighter who serves as vice chair of the AFGE Defense Conference’s Navy Caucus. “Federal firefighters work more hours for lesser pay and fewer benefits compared to their local and state counterparts.”
In another instance, Congress directed the Secretary of Defense to develop standardized credentials for DoD law enforcement officers and to issue all officers updated Common Access Cards (CAC) that clearly identify them as DoD law enforcement officers. DoD had until June 20 to enact the new requirement, which was included in the fiscal 2023 NDAA, yet there has been no discernible progress.
“Congress passed this measure to ensure proper identification for all military and DoD civilian personnel authorized to engage in law enforcement activities. DoD’s failure to comply with this requirement makes it harder for officers to do their jobs and could endanger their safety,” said Stephen Booth, chair of the AFGE DEFCON Police and Security Working Group.
DoD also has failed to implement provisions of a 2004 law, the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act, that allows all qualified active and retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed firearms regardless of state or local laws. Congress updated this law in 2013 to ensure it applies to military and civilian federal police officers, but DoD has not issued concealed carry credentials to any DoD law enforcement officers.
In addition to these legislative directives, DoD has failed to implement several provisions of executive orders issued by President Biden, including not equipping DoD officers with body cameras, as President Biden directed for all federal agencies in a May 2022 executive order, and not increasing the minimum pay for federal employees to $15 an hour, as President Biden directed during his first week in office.
“Getting something passed by Congress or issued by the White House is just half the battle – the other half is making sure federal agencies actually implement it,” Kelley said.