WASHINGTON Gilbert G. Gallegos, National President of the Grand Lodge, Fraternal Order of Police, hailed today's passage of H.R. 802, the "Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor Act," by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. The legislation, proposed by the F.O.P. and sponsored by Congressman Lamar Smith (R-LA), authorizes Congress to recognize acts of exceptional valor and heroism by law enforcement and other public safety officers.
"Now that the bill has passed committee, we will be asking the Senate leadership to schedule a floor vote on H.R. 802 for next week, so that the President will have the opportunity to sign the bill during National Police Week," Gallegos said.
The Senate Judiciary Committee also reported favorably S. 39, a bill of the same name introduced by Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK), which was amended to make it substantially identical to the House bill. If the Senate votes on and passes H.R. 802, it will go to the President for his signature. If the Senate acts on S. 39, the bill must first go to the House.
"We're extremely grateful to Chairman Hatch and Senator Leahy for their work and support of this legislation. Senator Leahy in particular has worked closely with us to get this measure passed," Gallegos said.
The bill creates a medal, awarded by the President in the name of Congress, to law enforcement officers who demonstrate courage and bravery above and beyond the call of duty without regard for their personal safety.
"This legislation enables Congress to recognize the everyday heroes of America's communities, those whose selfless dedication to duty and to protecting our streets and neighborhoods too often goes unnoticed," Gallegos said. "We believe that this is a fitting tribute to the men and women whose actions in the performance of their everyday duties distinguish them from their colleagues."
The Senate Judiciary Committee also favorably reported S. 166, the "James Guelff and Chris McCurley Body Armor Act." This bill, which the F.O.P. strongly supports, would increase the penalties for criminals who wear body armor and prohibit violent felons from possessing body armor. It would also permit the Federal government to donate surplus body armor to State and local agencies.
The Fraternal Order of Police is the largest law enforcement labor organization in the United States, with over 293,000 members.