Florida lawmakers are tackling the issue of criminals who attack law enforcement officers.
A bipartisan effort led by Republican Rep. John Rutherford and Democrat Rep. Val Demings have reintroduced the “Protect and Serve Act.” And, according to Rutherford’s office, the bill will “create federal penalties for individuals who deliberately target local, state, or federal law enforcement officers with violence.” This will include life sentences will any police officer is kidnapped or killed.
When the bill was first introduced last year, it passed the House but it did not make it through the Senate. In reintroducing it, both lawmakers noted that there has been a rising number of police officers that have been killed in the line of duty in recent years.
Demings explained that “law enforcement officers have a tough job and it’s an extremely dangerous one.” Having a law enforcement background that spans 27 years, Demings noted that “last year in Florida two sheriff’s deputies were shot and killed while they were at a restaurant, trying to grab a meal before going back on patrol.” In order to respond to crimes like this one, Demings assers that “law enforcement officers continue to work to enforce the laws with the highest moral and ethical standards and build relationships with the communities,” so lawmakers should “continue to work to keep them safe.”
Rutherford also cited his own past as a former sheriff and law enforcement officer, vowing “to ensure steep consequences for anyone who targets our law enforcement officers.”
The bill has the support of various groups such as the National Fraternal Order of Police, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association and the National Association of Police Organizations.
In addition, five other cosoponsors are lending their support to the bill, but there is no counterpart in the Senate.
The bill has been sent to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.