House votes to expand probation officers' arrest authority
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WASHINGTON — The House has passed a bill expanding the authority of federal probation officers to arrest someone who obstructs them from performing their official duties.
Probation officers already have the authority to arrest probationers who they believe have violated a condition of their release, but not third parties who try to stop their work.
Lawmakers say the number of such obstruction cases is relatively low — 39 last year.
The bill passed Friday 229-177.
Supporters, including the national policy-recommendation arm for the federal courts, say probation officers generally must retreat when they encounter a hostile third party and call local police. They say that undermines the probation officer's efforts to rehabilitate offenders while protecting the public.
Opponents argue that the new authority will "invite abuse" and escalate conflicts.