Vol. 19 No. 12- Hr 218 – Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act Of 2004

August 13, 2004

As a result of the Client Alert Memo we issued recently, regarding the implementation of this Act, we have been overwhelmed by phone calls and e-mails with various questions.  Unfortunately, there are few answers.

Examples of issues raised include, among others, (1) does the federal law pre-empt California laws regarding retired officers carrying concealed weapons; (2) does the law apply to reserves and, if so, which reserves; (3) since California has no “standards for training and qualification for active law enforcement officers to carry firearms,” which standards must the retired officer meet; (4) should legislation be implemented to require POST to establish such statewide standards;  (4) do the firearm requirements which must be met in the basic academy qualify as “state standards; (5) do individual agencies have any obligations and/or duties to their retired officers;  (5) should California issue a standardized retirement ID card; etc. etc?

We communicated with the office of the sponsoring congressman in an effort to secure information but, unfortunately, received little assistance.   As a result we contacted the California Department of Justice and the Office of the Attorney General for help. As an outgrowth of that interaction DOJ has arranged a meeting of representatives of the law enforcement and legal communities to discuss and, hopefully, resolve issues raised by this legislation. The meeting will be held on August 24, 2004 in Sacramento.

I am aware of similar meetings and consultations in other states being held also in an effort to secure answers to many of these questions.  I was invited to participate in such a conference hosted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and have conferred with their General Counsel, Michael Ramage. Mr. Ramage and I will be discussing HR 218 during a workshop I am presenting to the Legal Officers Section of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) at its conference in Los Angles in November, 2004.  Hopefully, by that time we will have collectively reached conclusions as to how this law is to be implemented.


We would urge that all questions regarding the impact of HR 218 be discussed with your agency’s legal advisor, rather than relying upon the opinion of other attorneys or one’s own interpretation of the law.  We believe that it would be safer for individual peace officers to hold off traveling to another state with a concealed weapon until there is some clarification of the law. It is reasonable to assume that other jurisdictions will adopt their own procedures to respond to officers from other states traveling with concealed weapons within their states.  That may, or may not, create liability for a California officer depending on what those rules are and how those rules are applied.  Hopefully we will be able to coordinate a process which will protect California law enforcement officers who choose to be armed outside of California.