Columns

Federal Officers to Trump: Shutdown Creates 'Extremely Dangerous Situation' Threatening Cops, Civilians

In this Oct. 22, 2018, photo U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents surround and detain a person during a raid in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

WASHINGTON — The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association warned President Trump today that the shutdown dragging on creates “an extremely dangerous situation that threatens the lives of our members and all Americans.”

FLEOA represents more than 26,000 officers from more than 65 federal agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the IRS, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Marshal Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and more.

In an open letter to Trump, FLEOA national president Nathan R. Catura stressed that “we all agree that our nation’s borders need to be secured, but right now those we’ve asked to do so are more focused on how to pay their bills.”

After missing their second paycheck today since the shutdown began Dec. 22, federal law enforcement officers, many assigned to protect the border, have their “bills and mortgages mount with no clear pay back date.”

Because law enforcement positions are deemed essential, they have to show up for work each day but don’t get paid.

“The situation has become so dire that a GoFundMe page has been established for federal employees, soup kitchens are advertising availability, and donations are being made around the nation to assist federal employees, including federal law enforcement officers. Mr. President, it is reprehensible that those working to protect America are being put in this perilous position,” Catura wrote.

“Many of our members conduct complex investigations including tracking terrorists, identifying foreign actors, and protecting elected officials, including you and your family. As the shutdown continues they are being put in both a fiscally and personally compromising position that is antithetical to the way our nation should be treating those that protect us.”

Catura added that “twenty-first century law enforcement requires research, analysis and technology,” but as “these critical investigative support elements are not working during the shutdown, this compares to half of a team taking a field for a game.”

“The targets of our investigations now have an advantage of being better informed and better resourced than our members,” he said.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC today that he doesn’t “really quite understand why” many federal workers are reaching out to food pantries for help feeding their families. “The obligations that they would undertake, say borrowing from a bank or a credit union, are in effect federally guaranteed, so the 30 days of pay that some people will be out is no real reason why they shouldn’t be able to get a loan against it,” he said.

Later, President Trump told reporters at the White House that Ross should have phrased it differently.

“Local people know who they are when they go for groceries and everything else. And I think what Wilbur was probably trying to say is that they will work along. I know banks are working along of — if you have mortgages, the mortgagees, the mortgage — the folks collecting the interest and all of those things, they work along,” Trump said. “And that’s what happens in times like this. They know the people, they been dealing with them for years, and they work along. The grocery store — and I think that’s probably what Wilbur Ross meant. But I’ve not seen his statement, no. But he’s done a great job. I will tell you that.”