Dear Chief Martinez:
We are seeking additional information on the recent Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) policy to decommission all dual function officers in the National Wildlife Refuge System (the System).
As you yourself have stated, law enforcement is a critical component of wildlife conservation in America. We are concerned that removing dual status officers, even if they are replaced by some full-time officers, will lead to less geographic coverage for the more than 560 refuges across the United States and to an increase in violations in the System. In 2004, the International Association of Chiefs of Police estimated that over 800 full-time law enforcement officers were necessary to adequately cover the sheer size of the System. Additionally, we are concerned for the safety of those FWS employees who will lose their law enforcement credentials and yet still be responsible for managing remote areas where illegal hunting and illegal marijuana grow sites could put employees at risk of a violent confrontation.
Considering these concerns, we respectfully request that you provide responses to the following:
What steps are in place, or will be in place, to ensure that managers operating in remote areas will be protected from those that would misuse the System?
How many full-time law enforcement officers will be hired to replace the decommissioned dual status officers?
How will law enforcement officers be distributed within the System?
How many law enforcement officers will be assigned to each region?
How many refuges will have full-time (daily or near-daily) law enforcement coverage?
How many refuges will have part-time law enforcement coverage?
How many refuges will have no law enforcement coverage?
Will you be requesting additional appropriations for Fiscal Year 2020 to hire additional full-time law enforcement officers to fill any coverage gaps?
If so, how much will you request?
Thank you for your service, and we appreciate your attention to this matter. We look forward to receiving your response.