Bipartisan legislation to enhance federal
penalties for targeting law enforcement officers
Congressman and former sheriff of Jacksonville, John Rutherford (FL-04), together with Congresswoman and former chief of the Orlando Police Department, Val Demings (FL-10), introduced H.R. 5698, the Protect and Serve Act of 2018. This bipartisan bill would create federal penalties for individuals who deliberately target local, state, or federal law enforcement officers with violence.
This year alone, 87 officers have been shot in the line of duty, 28 of whom lost their lives. This is 75 percent higher than this time last year. These troubling numbers show a significant, growing trend of armed attacks on law enforcement officers, and steps need to be taken to deter these actions.
“As a career law enforcement officer and sheriff of Jacksonville for 12 years, I know what officers go through every day when they put on their uniform, say goodbye to their families, and go out on the streets doing the important work of protecting our communities,” said Congressman Rutherford. “With an uptick in ambush attacks on law enforcement, like we saw last month in Trenton, Florida, we must ensure that there are steep consequences for anyone who targets our law enforcement officers. The Protect and Serve Act will serve as a significant deterrent for anyone who deliberately targets officers with violence. I want to thank my friend, Congresswoman Val Demings for her leadership on this bill and for her support of law enforcement officers across the country.”
Congresswoman Demings said, “After 27 years in law enforcement, I believe that officers must hold themselves to the highest standards, be accountable to their communities, and perform their duties with honor and integrity. There has been a 75 percent increase in officers shot and killed this year. Ambush-style killings have taken numerous officers’ lives. Last month, two sheriff’s deputies here in Florida were assassinated while eating lunch. We must give our officers the tools, training, and protections needed to be safe on the job. I call on my colleagues in Congress to do our job so our officers can do theirs.”
The Protect and Serve Act has been endorsed by the National Association of Police Organizations, Major County Sheriffs, Sergeants Benevolent Association, and the National Fraternal Order of Police. The bill will now go to the House Committee on the Judiciary, where a full-committee markup will be held before sending the bill to the House floor for passage. The full text of the bill can be found here.