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Tuesday, April 16th, 2024

Republican bill proposes death penalty or life sentences for killing police officers

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Through the Fallen Law Enforcement Act introduced this week, U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and John Cornyn (R-TX) seek to strengthen penalties for attacks on law enforcement across the board.

The bill would require death penalties or life imprisonment imposed on anyone convicted of murdering federal, state or local law enforcement officers. For cases of assault resulting in serious injuries, it would mandate criminal penalties of 20 years in prison.

“Anyone who willfully injures or takes the life of a law enforcement officer should face severe consequences and the highest criminal penalties,” Blackburn said. “Our brave men and women in blue put their own safety at risk in service to our communities, and we must do all that we can to ensure their perpetrators are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

In addition to the mandatory penalties, the Justice for Fallen Law Enforcement Act would require a study be conducted after 36 months to inform the House and Senate Judiciary Committees about prosecutions resulting from the legislation.

“Law enforcement officers in North Carolina and across the country are heroes who risk their lives every day to protect our communities,” said Senator Tillis. “Those who commit senseless acts of violence against law enforcement officers must be held accountable for their actions, which is why I am proud to introduce this legislation that creates harsh federal penalties for criminals who target law enforcement. They put their lives on the line to protect us, and we should do the work in Congress to protect them.”

Law enforcement deaths have been fairly consistent throughout for the last hundred years (between 100 and 250 deaths per year), according to data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, but figures spiked in 2020 and 2021 (to 417 and 623 deaths, respectively), before sliding back to more normal levels in 2022. However, the National Fraternal Order of Police reported that 378 officers were shot in the line of duty in 2023, of which 46 died.