RALEIGH — As an increase in violent and in some cases fatal attacks on law enforcement officers continues, U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) has introduced the Protect and Serve Act, which if passed will create federal penalties for individuals who deliberately target local, state, or federal law enforcement officers with violence.
“Law enforcement officers in North Carolina and across the country put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe, and the dramatic rise in senseless acts of violence against LEOs causing injury or loss of life is simply unacceptable,” said Tillis in a statement.
Tillis continued, “I am committed to supporting the men and women who swear an oath to protect us, and that is why I am proud to introduce this legislation that would create federal penalties for criminals who target law enforcement officers.”
According to a press statement from Tillis’ office, there have been 37 law enforcement officers killed in the U.S. so far in 2020, representing an increase of “20 percent since this time last year.” Eight of the 37 officers killed were ambushed in premeditated attacks.
“Particularly after the recent attacks on North Carolina Sheriff’s 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,” said Tillis.
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 passed, the law would cover federal law enforcement officers but could also apply to state and local officers where the federal government has established jurisdiction over a case.
The penalty would be up to 10 years in prison or possibly a life sentence if “a death results from the offense, or the offense includes kidnapping, attempted kidnapping, or attempted murder.”
Joining Tillis on the Protect and Serve Act is Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), as well as Sens. 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), Rob Portman (R-OH), David Perdue (R-GA), Roger Wicker (R-MS), James Inhofe (R-OK), and John Boozman (R-AR).
“Every day, law enforcement officials put their lives on the line to keep our communities and families safe,” Burr said in the release. “Their service is essential to ensuring safety and security in cities and towns across the nation. This legislation makes it a federal crime to knowingly cause injury to a law enforcement officer and sends a strong signal of support to law enforcement as they continue to protect our communities.”
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.
On Sept. 20, The North Carolina Fraternal Order of Police (NCFOP) endorsed Tillis, joining endorsements from both the North Carolina Troopers Association and the North Carolina Police Benevolent Association.
“Senator Tillis has always been a strong supporter on law and order issues and can always be counted on to stand up for the men and women that keep our communities safe. The same cannot be said for his opponent, Cal Cunningham,” state president of North Carolina Fraternal Order of Police Randy Hagler said.