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Tuesday, January 26th, 2021

GOP Senators introduce bill to create stiffer penalties for violence against law enforcement officers

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A group of Republican Senators introduced a bill that would create federal penalties for individuals who deliberately target local, state, or federal law enforcement officers with violence.

The Protect and Serve Act would make it a federal crime to knowingly cause, or attempt to cause, serious bodily injury to a law enforcement officer. Offenders are subject to imprisonment for up to 10 years and could receive a life sentence if it involves kidnapping, attempted kidnapping, attempted murder, or results in death.

“Attacks and violence against law enforcement officers are unacceptable and must be punished,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), one of the billʻs sponsors. “I am pleased to support this bill to enhance penalties for crimes against those who put their lives on the line every day for the safety of communities across the country. I urge my colleagues to support this bill so it can be passed and enacted quickly. We must hold those who target and assault law enforcement officers accountable for their actions, and I hope this bill serves as a deterrent against future attacks.”

Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC), John Kennedy (R-LA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Rick Scott (R-FL), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Mike Braun (R-IN), David Perdue (R-GA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Roger Wicker (R-MS), James Inhofe (R-OK), and John Boozman (R-AR) joined Portman in sponsoring the bill.

In 2020, there have been 37 law enforcement officers killed in the U.S., an increase of more than 20 percent year-over-year. Of that number, eight were ambushed in premeditated attacks, two were victims of an unprovoked attack, and the other 27 officers were killed in the line of duty.

This law would apply to federal law enforcement officers as well as state and local officers in circumstances where the federal government can establish jurisdiction over the case. A companion bill was introduced last year by Reps. John Rutherford (R-FL) and Val Demings (D-FL) in the House of Representatives.

The Protect and Serve Act has been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, National Association of Police Organizations, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, Sergeants Benevolent Association, and Major County Sheriffs of America.