The House Judiciary Committee today approved by voice vote the Protect and Serve Act of 2018 (H.R. 5698). This bill, authored by Congressman John Rutherford (R-Fla.), provides a significant deterrent for those seeking to attack police officers.
Attacks against police officers continue to rise across the country. For instance, in July 2016, police officers in Dallas, Texas were ambushed and fired upon, resulting in the death of five police officers and injuring another nine. Ten days later, six police officers were shot in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Three officers died and three were hospitalized. And just last month, two sheriffs’ deputies were gunned down eating at a Chinese food restaurant in a suspected ambush in Gainesville, Florida. In 2016 alone, 64 police officers died in action and 21 in ambush style attacks – police ambush deaths were up 250%.
To combat attacks against police officers, the Protect and Serve Act allows for the federal prosecution of those who knowingly cause or attempt to cause significant bodily injury to any law enforcement officer. In order to qualify for federal prosecution, the victim must either be a federal law enforcement officer, or, if a state or local officer, there must be a nexus to interstate commerce.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Congressman Rutherford praised today’s approval of the bill in the statements below.
Chairman Goodlatte: “Every day, police officers across the country put their lives at risk to keep Americans safe. From routine duties to emergency responses, danger is always lurking for the men and women who wear the badge. Sadly, our nation has witnessed an increase in attacks against law enforcement officers in recent years and these attacks show no signs of stopping. We must do more to prevent attacks against our nation’s heroes. TheProtect and Serve Act provides a new tool to deter attacks on police officers by allowing for the federal prosecution of those who attack or seek to harm them. I applaud Representative John Rutherford for introducing the Protect and Serve Act and am pleased the House Judiciary Committee today approved this bill. I also want to thank Representative Ken Buck for his work on this issue, and his dedication to protecting and serving the men and women of law enforcement.”
Congressman Rutherford: “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. 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.”
The Protect and Serve Act is supported by the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, Fraternal Order of Police, Major Cities Chiefs Association, Major County Sheriffs of America, National Association of Police Organizations, National Sheriffs Association, National Narcotic Officers’ Associations’ Coalition, and Sergeants Benevolent Association NYPD.