|TRAFICANT, James A., Jr.,|
Tuesday, September 29, 1998
Washington, D.C. – A House panel will hold a hearing this Friday on legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant, Jr. (D–OH) to make sweeping changes to the Federal Protective Service, the agency responsible for protecting more than 8,300 federal buildings across the country. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Public Buildings will hold a hearing on the measure on FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2ND AT 9:00 A.M. IN 2253 RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING.
Traficant, the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, introduced the Federal Protective Service Reform Act of 1998 last June. The bill, H.R. 4034, establishes, by statute, FPS as the principal law enforcement and security agency in the U.S. with respect to federal buildings. The bill also makes FPS a freestanding service within the General Services Administration (FPS is currently part of GSA's Public Building Service). Other provisions of H.R. 4034 would set clear qualification standards for FPS senior managers, clarify and broaden the authority of FPS officers, increase the compensation of FPS officers to the same level of comparable law enforcement agencies, increase the number of full-time FPS officers from 648 to 730, and require contract security guards to undergo the same background checks as FPS officers. Finally, the bill directs the General Accounting Office to conduct a feasibility study of folding all federal building security agencies into FPS.
"Low manpower levels, a flawed management structure, an unfair
compensation system and the increasing use of unqualified contract guards
are compromising the ability of FPS to do its job," asserted Traficant,
a former sheriff. "The longer Congress delays in addressing the problems
facing FPS, the more Congress is tempting fate."
Since introducing the bill Traficant has pointed to the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma as a prime example of why FPS reform is needed. On the day of the bombing there was one contract security guard on duty in Oklahoma City responsible for protecting three federal buildings – despite the fact that April 19th was a date of great significance to a number of militia and other violent groups in the United States. For example, April 19, 1995 was the second anniversary of the fatal federal raid in Waco, Texas in which more than 70 Branch Davidians were killed. April 19th is also the anniversary of the Revolutionary War battles of Lexington and Concord. Finally, on the same day of the bombing, white supremacist Richard Wayne Snell was scheduled to be executed in Arkansas for the killing of a black law enforcement officer. Mr. Snell had been apprehended in the 1970s for threatening to bomb the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City.
"I want to know why there was only one contract guard on duty that day, and whether or not FPS officials were made aware of the significance of April 19th," asserted Traficant. "I also want to know what procedures the federal government has implemented to ensure that sensitive intelligence information is thoroughly disseminated to the appropriate entities, including FPS. My legislation will ensure that FPS works directly with other federal law enforcement agencies, and receives unfiltered intelligence communications. Most important, my bill will ensure that decisions on how and where to deploy FPS personnel are made based solely on security and law enforcement factors – not cost and budget factors."
Traficant added that "since the Oklahoma City bombing, GSA has
made some progress in improving the physical security of federal buildings,"
said Traficant. "But the security upgrade program has been
hindered by mismanagement and staff reductions. Structural and personnel
problems within FPS are also hampering the security upgrade program.
Every federal building in America is a potential target. The best
way to deter terrorist acts against federal buildings is to have a highly
motivated, professionally led, properly manned and fairly compensated FPS,"
From 1981 to 1985, Traficant served as sheriff of Mahoning County, Ohio.