On behalf of our activist community, I urge you to contact your representative and urge him or her to vote NO on the Probation Officer Protection Act, H.R. 1039. Although the bill may have good intentions, it presents a serious conflict with the Fourth Amendment and expands the policing powers of federal probation officers.
While there is a need to protect law enforcement officers who are performing their duties, the Probation Officer Protection Act is an answer in search of a problem. Interference with a federal probation officer is already unlawful and current law already allows a law enforcement officer to arrest an individual or individuals who obstruct a federal probation officer during the performance of their duties.
The instances in which third parties obstruct a federal probation officer are rare. According to the U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services System, less than 4 percent of third parties were uncooperative during pre-approved searches in 2013, less than 6 percent in 2014, and 7 percent in 2016. Separately, the Federal Probation and Pretrial Officers Association reported that only 3 percent of searches in 2016 involved uncooperative third parties.
While probationers have lost some of their Fourth Amendment rights, third parties have not. The Probation Officer Protection Act could lead to instances in which the Fourth Amendments rights of third parties are infringed because of overly broad language in Section 2(b) or interpretations of words in it, such as “intimidation” or “interference.”
Additionally, the “rules and regulations” under which the arrest authority of federal probation officers will be determined by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, not by Congress. This creates yet another situation in which Congress is relenting its constitutional authority to another branch of the federal government.
FreedomWorks will count the votes for the Probation Officer Protection Act, H.R. 1039, when calculating our Scorecard for 2017 and reserves the right to score any related votes. The scorecard is used to determine eligibility for the FreedomFighter Award, which recognizes Members of the House and Senate who consistently vote to support economic freedom and individual liberty.
Adam Brandon, President, FreedomWorks