H.R. 1039, Probation Officer Protection Act of 2017
On Friday, May 19th, 2017, the House will consider H.R. 1039, Probation Officer Protection Act of 2017, under a structured rule. H.R. 1039 was introduced on February 14, 2017, by Rep. David Reichert (R-WA) and was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, which ordered the bill reported by a vote of 15-7 on May 3, 2017.
H.R. 1039 amends the federal criminal code to authorize a probation officer to arrest a person, without warrant, if there is probable cause to believe that person forcibly assaulted or obstructed a probation officer while performing their official duties. The bill also would direct the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AOUSC) to implement rules and regulations governing probation officers’ conduct while exercising that authority.
Although obstructing a probation officer in the performance of his or her official duties is illegal, when a probation officer encounters an uncooperative or violent third party, the officer may be forced to retreat because he or she lacks authority to restrain the third party. This lack of authority and resulting need to retreat, rather than restrain the third party, exposes probation officers to greater risk of harm and allows the third party to elude capture. As a result, evidence that an offender has violated a condition of his or her probation or supervised release, or evidence of other criminal activity, may be lost.
According to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. David Reichert, “Hostile and at times threatening environments are part of a probation officer’s average day on the job. Although they encounter many of the same dangers faced by members of the law enforcement community, they do not have the same tools to protect themselves. This bipartisan, bicameral bill rights that wrong.”
1. Rep. Jackson Lee (D-TX) – This amendment requests a comprehensive study on the new authority of probation officers and sunsets that authority 30 months later after enactment.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates implementing H.R. 1039 would have no significant effect on the budget.
For questions or further information please contact Dominique Yantko with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 3-1555.