WASHINGTON–U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) have helped reintroduce the Protect and Serve Act, legislation to create federal penalties for individuals who deliberately target local, state or federal law enforcement officers with violence.
“Law enforcement officers risk their lives every day to help keep our communities safe and secure. It is alarming to see them increasingly targeted with violence as they perform their duties, adding to the dangers they must account for and reminding us of the serious threats they face. I am proud to join Senator Tillis and my colleagues to send a clear message that we stand with our police and will hold those who perpetrate attacks against them accountable,” said Boozman.
“Law enforcement officers face enough job hazards already, so attacking these men and women simply for doing their jobs is inexcusable,” said Cotton. “Our bill will help protect police by increasing penalties for the criminals who target them.”
The legislation is sponsored by Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) and, in addition to Boozman and Cotton, was cosponsored by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Richard Burr (R-NC), Rick Scott (R-FL), Mike Braun (R-IN), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Steve Daines (R-MT), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), John Thune (R-SD), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Susan Collins (R-ME).
According to the National Fraternal Order of Police, in 2020 more than 300 officers were shot in the line of duty and 47 officers were shot and killed including Helena-West Helena Police Officer Travis Wallace, Pine Bluff Police Detective Kevin Collins and Hot Springs Police Officer Brent Scrimshire. Additionally, more than 300 officers lost their lives to COVID-19 last year.
FBI data indicate 14 officers have been killed by others in the line of duty in 2021, including Capitol Hill Police Officer Brian David Sicknick.
The Protect and Serve Act would support law enforcement officers by:
- Making 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.
- Ensuring an offender could receive a life sentence if a death results from the offense, or the offense includes kidnapping, attempted kidnapping or attempted murder.
This law would apply in injuries or deaths of federal law enforcement officers, as well as state and local officers in circumstances where the federal government can establish jurisdiction over the case.
Boozman and Cotton were original cosponsors of the legislation when it was first introduced in 2020.
The legislation has been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, National Association of Police Organizations, Sergeants Benevolent Association (NYPD), Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, National Sheriffs Association, Major Cities Chiefs Association and the Major County Sheriffs Association.