Million Dollar LEO Question
We have dedicated our entire segment to a discussion of law enforcement officers (LEO) and LEO retirement. Many questions surrounding the retirement system for LEOs come from LEOs as well as non-LEOs. The topic is termed million dollar LEO question because many law enforcement personnel continue to grapple with understanding why some individuals working in law enforcement are classified as qualified LEOs while others are not.
Let me preface my statement by saying that law enforcement is critically important in maintaining law and order and preventing a state of anarchy. The answer to the million dollar question rests in the definition given to LEOs for retirement purposes.
There is a commonly accepted concept of law enforcement and there is a restrictive concept of law enforcement that frames how an individual is termed as a qualified LEO. The fundamental concept that deems an individual a qualified LEO is that the primary duties must involve investigation, apprehension, or detention of individuals suspected or convicted of offenses against the criminal laws of the United States.
The distinction is drawn that other non-LEOs involved in law enforcement are more involved in prevention or detection of violations versus investigating those violations. Police officers, guards, customs and immigration inspectors and other inspectors do not meet the definition of LEO for retirement purposes. This definition or exclusion in no way speaks to the unimportance of these personnel, as a matter of fact it is just the opposite.
Qualified LEOs work with many different classifications of law enforcement personnel to perform the very critical duties of protecting the nation from harm and danger.
The argument for integrating LEOs into one retirement system is the difference in basic and premium pay entitlements from one law enforcement group to another.
It is also important to point out that there is a definition of law enforcement officer under CSRS LEOs and FERS LEOs. The definitions are essentially parallel. However, CSRS LEOs for retirement purposes include FBI special agents, Secret Service special agents, Border Patrol agents, U. S. marshals, deputy U. S. marshals, and Bureau of Prisons correctional officers. FERS LEOs include all of the groups in CSRS in addition to Secret Service Uniformed Division officers, Park Police officers and individuals fundamentally engaged in the protection of officials of the U.S. Government against threats to their personal safety.
Hopefully this information sheds some light on our Million dollar LEO question.
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