|For Immediate Release
July 20, 2011
Contact: Kim Smith Hicks, 202-225-3951
Statement of Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith
Full Committee Markup of
H.R. 2076, the “Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act of 2011”
Chairman Smith: The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) currently does not have specific statutory authority to assist in the investigation of mass killings or attempted mass killings, or other violent crimes occurring in non-federal venues.
H.R. 2076, the Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act of 2011, allows the FBI to provide State and local law enforcement authorities with assistance if requested when the violent act does not appear to otherwise violate a federal law.
This situation often arises when the FBI is asked to assist local authorities with shootings and mass killings at some public place such as a shopping mall or a school.
The FBI often assists State and local authorities in a variety of matters. That is the way it should be. The FBI has long trained State, local and international law enforcement officials. The public expects FBI resources to be used to preserve order and save lives when necessary.
However, in some mass shootings situations, the FBI has had difficulty finding the necessary federal jurisdiction to provide the requested assistance.
I commend Mr. Gowdy for introducing this legislation. He has taken a very logical approach to fixing what could be a very serious problem.
Before anyone jumps to criticize this bill as an expansion of federal authority, let me emphasize that this bill does not expand the jurisdiction of the FBI. Any assistance from the FBI must be requested by the State or local authority and agreed to by federal authorities. In other words, the FBI will only step in when State or local counterparts ask for help and they agree to help.
This legislation is simple, but very much needed. The FBI looks to federal law to determine what authority it has been granted by Congress. That is why we must give the FBI the specific authority to respond to requests for assistance from State and local law enforcement authorities when mass killings or other acts of violence are committed or attempted.