Biden signs 3 law enforcement support bills into law
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Gray News) - Praising the bipartisan effort behind the three law enforcement support bills, President Joe Biden signed the bills into law at the White House Thursday morning: the Protecting America’s First Responders Act of 2021, the Confidentiality Opportunities for Peer Support Counseling Act or the COPS Counseling Act, and the Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila Federal Officers and Employees Protection Act.
He was accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Majorkas.
Acknowledging the challenges law enforcement and first responders face, Biden said “it’s going to require more resources, not fewer resources.”
Now signed into law, the bipartisan first responders protection bill is designed to offer improved access to benefits for those disabled in the line of duty.
The COPS Counseling Act sets forth requirements for peer support counseling programs for law enforcement officers.
In praising the bill, Biden said peer support is an essential tool to help first responders who often “confront scenes that take a toll on them.”
The Zapata and Avila bill ensures “individuals who have killed or attempted to kill U.S. federal officers and employees serving abroad can be brought to justice and prosecuted in the United States,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, one of the bill’s cosponsors, said in a news release.
Biden said of the bill, which closed a jurisdiction loophole: “If you attack our agents, you will not escape our justice.”
The bill is named in honor of Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agents Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila, who were attacked by Mexican drug cartels in San Luis Potosi, Mexico on Feb. 15, 2011. Zapata died from his injuries.
Though the two suspects accused in the attack were taken into custody and convicted, an appeals court threw out the convictions in 2020 because of concerns over jurisdiction since the crimes were committed outside the U.S.
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