Bob Goodlatte: Restoring trust in federal law enforcement agencies

goodlattefourinEvery day, thousands of federal law enforcement agents are hard at work, doing their part to keep Americans safe and delivering them the justice they deserve. I have the utmost respect and appreciation for the dedicated law enforcement professionals who protect and serve our communities.

Unfortunately, over the past few years a series of scandals and failures have rocked the Secret Service, ranging from the agents’ use of prostitutes while on official presidential travel to Colombia, to the agency’s failure to initially apprehend a fence-jumper who later was arrested deep into the White House residence, to a recent incident where two agents allegedly drove while intoxicated into an active bomb investigation outside of the White House. Just a few weeks ago, it was also revealed that Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents had engaged with prostitutes paid for by drug cartels while in Colombia.

This past week, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations held a hearing to further analyze the efforts of these agencies to deal with serious misconduct that has caused the public to forget the competent and professional service they expect from federal law enforcement professionals. I am pleased that, though they are quite late in doing so, the agencies that appeared before the Committee finally seem to be taking this seriously.

Additionally, in an effort to address many of the issues plaguing the Secret Service, I recently introduced the Secret Service Improvements Act to provide much-needed reforms. The bipartisan legislation strengthens the security of the President and the White House complex, enhances Secret Service agents’ training, and improves transparency and accountability at the agency. It also requires Senate confirmation of the Director of the Secret Service. It defies logic that the person we entrust to not just protect the President, but also head a $1.5 billion dollar federal law enforcement agency with over 6,000 employees, is not subject to the same process of advice and consent as his counterparts at comparable agencies.

It is an inescapable fact that the exposure of a rogue agent or unsavory incident stick in the collective memory more firmly than entire careers worth of effective, unblemished law enforcement work. That is why it is so important that we get to the bottom of these troubling revelations and put an end to the “agents gone wild” image. The House Judiciary Committee has conducted aggressive oversight over these agencies and will continue to do so. We must take the necessary steps to restore trust in our federal law enforcement agencies and ensure the safety of those they serve.

Bob Goodlatte represents Virginia’s Sixth District in Congress.

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