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Stewart Bill Would End Fed Agency SWAT Teams

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Inspector General agents for federal agencies like the General Services Administration would be stripped of their arrest and firearm authority under a bill proposed by U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah.

U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, sees his Regulatory Agency De-Militarization Act as a way to ease the mutual distrust that’s grown between Americans and their federal regulators. He says agencies like the Education Department, the Internal Revenue Service and the Environmental Protection Agency don’t need their own highly armed units.

“Why do they have what are essentially SWAT teams with heavy combat weapons?” he asks. “I think that breaks down trust between the citizens and the federal government. It leads to a growing sense that the federal government is heavy handed.”

Stewart’s bill would ban regulatory agencies from buying weapons like machine guns and grenades. And it would repeal the arrest and firearm authority that Inspector General offices now have.

The congressman says Bureau of Land Management police would be able to carry handguns for self-protection and to work with U.S. Marshals and the FBI when needed.

But the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association says the legislation would hinder well-trained professionals from protecting Americans from fraud and other crimes.

“His bill’s just flawed,” says the group’s president, Nathan Catura, “and we will do everything that we can to make sure that it does not see the light of day.” 

The bill’s been assigned to the House Oversight Committee chaired by fellow Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz, and it’s been promised a hearing early next year.

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