Bill that would mandate 10 years for injuring police introduced to Congress
According to Buzzfeed News a new bill entitled the Protect and Serve Act has been introduced to Congress that would mandate harsher penalties to people for injuring or attempting to injure police officers. The bill’s backers, which also include at least one Democratic congressman so far, say that the federal government needs to do something to curb what they deem to “cowardly assaults” on police officers in recent years.
In actuality, it is police killings of unarmed civilians that have gone up each of the past three years, but this bill sends a false message that the real problem is the police are under attack, its opponents say.
Even though injuring or killing a police officer is already a crime with enhanced punishments according to both federal and state laws In all 50 states, the bill being pushed by these congressmen and William Johnston, the executive director of National Association of Police Organizations, seeks to add harsher punishments, carrying a penalty of ten years in prison.
Senator Orrin Hatch, a Republican representing the state of Utah, said in a statement that this legislation “makes clear that no criminal will be able to escape justice when he singles out and assaults those who put on the badge every day to keep us safe.” Hatch’s language is very much in keeping with the conservative idea that there is a singular “assault on the badge.”
Meanwhile, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has argued that police officers killing unarmed people is a “local matter,” and has signaled that he will curtail investigations into police brutality by his Justice Department.
Various civil rights organizations have sent a letter urging senators to reconsider passing legislation that further protects an already protected group: “This bill is a political response to the growing national movement for police accountability in the face of continued killings and assaults of unarmed African Americans,” the letter—which is signed by the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund—reads.