- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 22, 2001

Police officers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center say their lives will be endangered under a soon-to-be-enforced regulation that would have them carry their semiautomatic weapons without a live round in the chamber.
In violent situations, officers often have no time to load a round in their 9 mm Beretta handguns, said Officer Patrick Hayes, vice chairman of the Walter Reed Fraternal Order of Police labor committee.
"What will happen is you'll draw your weapon, you have to remove the safety, then cock the chamber and by that time you're dead or getting your head bashed," Officer Hayes said.
"This is dangerous for us. Why would you even have a police force if you restrict them like this?" he said, adding that carrying fully loaded weapons is standard practice among military police.
Army officials at Walter Reed said the regulation most likely will take effect in the next few weeks. Officials e-mailed officers Dec. 7 to alert them that the regulation will be enforced and to allow them to voice any concerns about the same.
"It is an Army regulation No. 190-14," said Jim Stueve, spokesman for Walter Reed Provost Marshal William J. Bolduc.
The regulation states that an Army law enforcement and security officer will be armed with a loaded weapon, but the weapon must have the safety on and there will not be a round in the firing chamber.
"It has always been that way, but the chief's predecessors chose not to enforce the policy," Mr. Stueve said.
Chief Bolduc's enforcement of the regulation follows his recent reduction of law enforcement powers among the Army hospital's police force.
Chief Bolduc has ruled that Walter Reed's 60 police officers are Army personnel who are bound by the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. The act bans members of the U.S. armed services from enforcing laws on civilians.
Chief Bolduc's decision ended a 1997 agreement between Walter Reed and the Metropolitan Police Department that allowed the hospital's police to detain civilians suspected of misdemeanors and minor felonies on the medical center's grounds.
The Washington Times first reported the reduction of powers last week.
The Department of Defense only recognizes those officers working as Defense Protective Service at the Pentagon as Defense Department police officers, said Pentagon spokesman Glenn Flood.
"We don't have any Defense Protective Service officers at Walter Reed," Mr. Flood said. "Those guys are under Army jurisdiction."
Defense Department police officers are allowed to exercise law-enforcement powers similar to those of civilian police.
Officer Hayes said police officers have been assaulted at Walter Reed and often must forcibly apprehend persons on the Army hospital's property.
He noted that Officer Albee Forney was fatally shot by a mentally disturbed patient in one of the hospital's dormitories in 1991.
But Mr. Stueve said forcible apprehensions and situations in which officers have to draw their weapons are rare at Walter Reed.

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