Over a dozen Republican senators this week introduced a bill that would make attacking law enforcement officers a federal crime, citing the rising number of officers killed in the line of duty this year.
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.
If the bill passes, offenders would face jail terms of up to 10 years.
That penalty could escalate to life in jail if a death results from the crime, or if the offense includes kidnapping or attempted murder.
“When someone attacks a law enforcement officer, that person is also threatening all the people that officer serves and protects,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said in a statement. “The rash of violent assaults against law enforcement is monstrous. Supporting officers in the face of unwarranted violence is key to making communities safe and prosperous.”
“Particularly after the recent attacks on North Carolina Sheriff Deputy Ryan Hendrix and officers in Los Angeles, it is time to pass this legislation and send a clear message that acts of violence like this are unacceptable and that there will be no escape from justice for these criminals,” added Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).
Hendrix was shot dead on Sept. 10 by a man who refused to be arrested. The shooter was killed by other officers.
Two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies in Compton, California, were ambushed on Sept. 12 while sitting in a patrol vehicle. The suspect has not been identified or caught.
“The radical Left’s crusade against law and order has only encouraged violence against our brothers and sisters in blue,” Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) said in a statement, adding later: “We cannot allow these atrocities to become the status quo. I’m proud to stand with my colleagues in defense of law enforcement and in ensuring those who attempt to perpetrate these appalling crimes are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
The other senators joining the introduction of the bill are Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), and John Boozman (R-Ark.).
Earlier this week, an attempt to unanimously pass a bill that would have elevated penalties for people who kill police officers was blocked.