Policy: National Security

Eleanor Holmes Norton calls for overhaul of Federal Protective Service

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The District of Columbia's delegate to Congress has plans to overhaul the federal agency tasked with protecting federal buildings in the wake of the Navy Yard shooting earlier this year.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton wants major changes for the Federal Protective Service, which is responsible for protecting more than 9,600 General Services Administration facilities across the country.

Her bill is still being worked out, but initial details reveal the legislation would define the authority of the FPS and the legal authority of its contract guards, clarify how the FPS is monitored and require new transparency measures.

"The FPS is a hybrid police force whose duties and responsibilities are so unclear as to render them toothless in an emergency," Norton said in a statement.

FPS is also responsible for 1,000 law enforcement officers and 13,500 contract guards, all tasked with protecting federal buildings.

The shooting at the Washington, D.C., Navy Yard shooting left 12 dead this past September.

Protected security officers who guard facilities such as the Navy Yard are contracted employees whose main job responsibilities include screening people entering federal buildings and assisting in evacuations — however, these officers have glaring limitations.

"If, in fact, they are approached or come in contact with a shooter, they are trained to engage," FPS chief Eric Patterson said a hearing before Congress in December. "What they are not trained in is to go find the shooter and take action."

Patterson told the hearing he didn't have the resources to put a trained police officer at the door of every federal building.

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