On February 9, President Trump issued a new Executive Order stating that it shall be the policy of the executive branch to enforce of all Federal laws, develop strategies, and “pursue appropriate legislation, consistent with the Constitution’s regime of limited and enumerated Federal powers, that will define new Federal crimes, and increase penalties for existing Federal crimes, in order to prevent violence against Federal, State, tribal, and local law enforcement officers.”
Not surprisingly, the law enforcement community immediately praised the new directive.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig said on Fox News that the order “is an encouraging sign that the highest levels of leadership in the country are committed to supporting law enforcement.”
What is missing from this order are additional protections for non-law enforcement government workers.
While no one denies that the rate of injury and death for law enforcement officers is higher than for other government workers, that does not mean that non-law enforcement government employees need not worry about violence related to their job.
Federal law already penalizes individuals who assault or impede federal employees under 18 U.S.C. § 111, but if the President believes those protections should be enhanced for law enforcement officials, why not include all government workers in his order?
In 2013, the Bureau of Justice Statistics produced a Special Report titled “Workplace Violence Against Government Employees, 1994-2011”
BJS found that in 2011, excluding law enforcement and security employees, the rate of workplace violence against government employees (8.7 per 1,000) was greater than the rate for private-sector employees (4.7 per 1,000).
Almost 44% of workplace violence incidents against government employees occurred against persons not in law enforcement and security occupations.
Among non-law enforcement and security government employees, those employed by state, county, and local governments had a rate of workplace violence that was more than twice that of federal employees in 2011, but as anger towards the new Administration continues, government workers, and especially federal workers, are in danger of being targeted by individuals unhappy with changes in government policies.
While most career government employees are not engaged in making policy decisions, they will be on the frontlines of explaining the new directives.
These non-law enforcement government workers also deserve additional protection against violence, especially if President Trump’s new budget includes large cutbacks in social services.
A copy of the executive order is included below.
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
February 09, 2017
Presidential Executive Order on Preventing Violence Against Federal, State, Tribal, and Local Law Enforcement Officers
PREVENTING VIOLENCE AGAINST FEDERAL, STATE, TRIBAL,
AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. It shall be the policy of the executive branch to:
(a) enforce all Federal laws in order to enhance the protection and safety of Federal, State, tribal, and local law enforcement officers, and thereby all Americans;
(b) develop strategies, in a process led by the Department of Justice (Department) and within the boundaries of the Constitution and existing Federal laws, to further enhance the protection and safety of Federal, State, tribal, and local law enforcement officers; and
(c) pursue appropriate legislation, consistent with the Constitution’s regime of limited and enumerated Federal powers, that will define new Federal crimes, and increase penalties for existing Federal crimes, in order to prevent violence against Federal, State, tribal, and local law enforcement officers.
Sec. 2. Implementation. In furtherance of the policy set forth in section 1 of this order, the Attorney General shall:
(a) develop a strategy for the Department’s use of existing Federal laws to prosecute individuals who commit or attempt to commit crimes of violence against Federal, State, tribal, and local law enforcement officers;
(b) coordinate with State, tribal, and local governments, and with law enforcement agencies at all levels, including other Federal agencies, in prosecuting crimes of violence against Federal, State, tribal, and local law enforcement officers in order to advance adequate multi-jurisdiction prosecution efforts;
(c) review existing Federal laws to determine whether those laws are adequate to address the protection and safety of Federal, State, tribal, and local law enforcement officers;
(d) following that review, and in coordination with other Federal agencies, as appropriate, make recommendations to the President for legislation to address the protection and safety of Federal, State, tribal, and local law enforcement officers, including, if warranted, legislation defining new crimes of violence and establishing new mandatory minimum sentences for existing crimes of violence against Federal, State, tribal, and local law enforcement officers, as well as for related crimes;
(e) coordinate with other Federal agencies to develop an executive branch strategy to prevent violence against Federal, State, tribal, and local law enforcement officers;
(f) thoroughly evaluate all grant funding programs currently administered by the Department to determine the extent to which its grant funding supports and protects Federal, State, tribal, and local law enforcement officers; and
(g) recommend to the President any changes to grant funding, based on the evaluation required by subsection (f) of this section, including recommendations for legislation, as appropriate, to adequately support and protect Federal, State, tribal, and local law enforcement officers.
Sec. 3. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
DONALD J. TRUMP
THE WHITE HOUSE,
February 9, 2017