FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 12, 2012
SCHUMER ASKS U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL TO SUPPORT LEGISLATION ON SEX OFFENDERS THAT WOULD HAVE HELPED UTICA’S ROBERT BLAINEY SEARCH – A.G. ERIC HOLDER SAYS HE SUPPORTS IDEA, “GLAD TO WORK WITH,” SENATOR SCHUMER
Schumer Legislation Would Make It Easier For Local Law Enforcement To Request Help From Feds During Searches For Fugitive Sex Offenders
Law Would Remove Burdensome Bureaucratic Approval Process to Access Key Database – Would Have Made Blainey Search Easier
Schumer: Police Should Never Have To Wait For Help When They Ask to Pursue Sex Offenders
Today, during the Senate Oversight Hearing of the Department of Justice, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer asked U.S. Attorney General Holder whether he would support legislation that would be particularly important to the people of Utica. The legislation, being proposed by Senator Schumer, would allow local law enforcement to easily request help from federal law enforcement agencies during the pursuit of sex offenders. While U.S. Marshalls were eventually able to assist in the hunt for Robert Blainey, they were first required to jump through burdensome bureaucratic hoops before being granted approval for federal assistance.
During the hearing, Senator Schumer asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder the following:
Senator Schumer: Would you support legislation allowing the National Sex Offender Targeting Center to provide investigative and analytical support to state and local law enforcement in cases where these agencies ask for federal help to track down fugitive sex offenders?
Attorney General Holder: Let me just say, I want to thank you for raising this issue and I also appreciate the support that you’ve given to the department with efforts in this regard over the years. We have always been able to count on you and I think Congress has also given us many tools for this issue. I have not yet seen the bill that you are referring too, but I would be glad to examine it and work with you on this very real problem. It’s an issue that we as a Society have focused on far too late and far too little. I would be glad to work with you.
Senator Schumer: The basic idea is something you’re sympathetic to, letting them share? I’m not asking you to support legislation that you have you haven’t seen yet. But the basic idea is something you would be supportive of?
Attorney General Holder: That is correct.
During the hearing, Senator Schumer asked Attorney General Holder whether he would support efforts to allow the National Sex Offender Targeting Center to provide investigative and analytical support to state and local law enforcement in cases where these agencies ask for federal help in tracking down fugitive sex offenders. During his questioning, Senator Schumer referenced the Robert Blainey case from Utica last November when federal assistance was helpful in the search for a serial rapist who failed to show up for a parole hearing and committed repeated crimes. While federal Marshalls were able to help in Blainey case, local law enforcement had to jump through burdensome hoops before obtaining federal assistance – an extra step that new legislation being proposed by Senator Schumer would make unnecessary.
One of the primary vehicles the Marshals Service has for providing this assistance is the National Sex Offender Targeting Center, which is comprised of subject matter experts versed in a variety of aspects regarding sex offender management and investigation. As the Targeting Center has become more successful in tracking down sex offenders who have failed to register, they have received a growing number of requests for assistance from state and local police to investigate other sex-crimes. Unfortunately, there is the problem. In many instances, the Targeting Center is being asked for help in cases that are arguably outside its current authority--which is currently limited to investigating sex-offenders who fail to register. State and local law officers often want federal help to identify and apprehend suspected sex offenders in cases where the issue is not failure to register, and it is not currently clear when federal help can legally be made available.
“When local police are in the middle of a manhunt for a fugitive sex offender, they shouldn’t have to wait for permission to get federal help,” said Senator Schumer. “The Robert Blainey case is a perfect example of why this legislation is needed. Local law enforcement should never have to worry whether or not they’ll get help at the federal level when they ask for it.”