Politics House passes tough penalties for those who attack, ambush law enforcement officers

04:25  17 may  2018
04:25  17 may  2018 Source:   usatoday.com

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It specifies that the tougher penalties for crimes against officers still apply if they are not on duty when they are attacked , and triggers tougher penalties if prosecutors can prove an attacker “For myself and my colleagues, we all support police and law - enforcement officers ,” Bolding said.

More than a dozen states this year have passed laws that come down even harder on crimes against law enforcement officers . But they rose last year to 143, including 21 killed in ambushes — the highest number of such attacks in more than two decades.

WASHINGTON — The House overwhelmingly passed a bill Wednesday that would toughen federal penalties against people who intentionally target law enforcement officers in attacks, including ambushes.

“Sadly, we’ve seen a recent rash and an increase in violence against officers especially in ambush-style attacks," Rep. John Rutherford, R-Fla., said Wednesday. “We as members of Congress must show the law enforcement community across this country that we support them and the important work that they do day in and day out. We must also show that those who wish to target police officers with violence that those attacks will not be tolerated."

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Ken Rizer (R - Cedar Rapids) plans to draft a bill, pushing for tougher penalties for people who attack law enforcement officers and firefighters. "I'm looking at attempted murder, second-degree murder, vehicular homicide

The Missouri House passed two bills Thursday that aim to give more protection to police officers . A similar system has been established in several other states in response to ambush -style killings of law enforcement personnel.

The House voted 382 to 35 late Wednesday to approve the “Protect and Serve Act of 2018.”

The measure proposed by Rutherford, a former Duval County sheriff, and Florida Rep. Val Demings, a Democrat, would make it a federal crime to intentionally assault a police officer with punishment up to 10 years. The punishment could be life in prison if the officer is killed or kidnapped.

"We cannot ask our officers to do this work while failing to cope with the consequences,'' Demings, a former Orlando police chief, tweeted earlier Wednesday. "We must take care of them so they can take care of us."

A similar measure in the Senate proposed by Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., would make it a hate crime. The Hate Crimes Prevention Act makes it a federal crime to assault someone based on their perceived race, color, religion or national origin. The Senate bill would include the "status of the person as a law enforcement officer.''

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More than a dozen states this year have passed “Blue Lives Matter” laws that come down even harder on crimes against law enforcement officers . The new laws came in reaction to a spike in deadly attacks on police last year.

The legislation is an answer to two recent attacks : the 2016 ambush that left six Dallas police officers dead and many more injured, and the 2015 attack on state District Judge Julie Abbott, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and other officials have called for enhanced penalties for attacking law enforcement .

The House vote comes during National Police Week when the nation honors fallen law enforcement officers.

National Police Week brings together thousands of law enforcement officers and family members of officers killed last year in the line of duty. The week includes a candlelight vigil Sunday and the National Peace Officers' Memorial Service where President Trump spoke Tuesday at the U.S. Capitol.

“We must end the attacks on our police and we must end them right now,’’ said Trump. “We believe criminals who kill our police should get the death penalty.”

Trump, who supports the bill, said on the most alarming crimes against officers is an ambush.

“I have directed the Justice Department to do everything in its power to defend the lives of American law enforcement,’’ he said.

Several law enforcement groups, including the Fraternal Order of Police and the National Association of Police Organizations, support the legislation.

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Missouri Governor Eric Greitens is pushing to toughen Missouri’s already stiff penalties for attacking a police officer , reflecting similar efforts underway in other states and pleasing many in Missouri’s law enforcement community. Whether such changes are needed is debatable – among those who think

“The ambush -style assaults, the murders of police officers across the country … can lead legislators to look at this and say ‘Yeah, this is a real problem.’ ” Besides, Johnson and others say, there are already tough penalties and enhanced death penalty considerations for killing law enforcement

But some civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, calling it unnecessary and say it duplicates many state laws already in place.

Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, called it a "misguided approach to justice system reform."

"The Protect and Serve Act inappropriately creates a new – yet duplicative – crime for offenses that 'target law enforcement,' furthering division between law enforcement and the communities they serve," she said in a statement.

New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, called it a "wasted opportunity" to address other struggles in communities across the country.

He said there should be more efforts to improve relations between law enforcement and communities of color.

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., the majority whip, urged support for the bill. He said he knows all too well the value of police protection.

Scalise was shot in the hip last summer while practicing with Republican colleagues for a congressional baseball game.

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Legislation that would make attacking police officers and judges a hate crime cleared the Texas Senate on Tuesday. John Cornyn and other officials have called for enhanced penalties for attacking law enforcement .

Harming a police officer is already a crime under federal law , and all 50 states have laws that enhance penalties for "NAPO has long been fighting to establish stricter penalties for those who harm or target for harm law enforcement officers .

Capitol Police officers, who shot the gunman, are credited with preventing the deaths of Scalise and dozens of lawmakers and staffers.

"They deserve this protection," said Scalise, who is still recovering and used two canes to leave the House chamber Wednesday. "We’ve seen too often in the last year, in the last two years where police officers were targeted by people because they wore a badge."

"We need to stand with them," he continued. “We need to make it crystal clear that we’re going to be standing with them and we’re going to have their back because more often than not they’re the ones who have our back."

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Source: http://us.pressfrom.com/news/politics/-145625-house-passes-tough-penalties-for-those-who-attack-ambush-law-enforcement-officers/

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