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New US bill raises criminal penalties for harming federal public safety personnel

The bill would carry a minimum mandatory sentence of 30 years for killing federally funded law enforcement members, firefighters and EMS providers


Photo/In Public Safety

By Suzie Ziegler

WASHINGTON — Congressmen from Nebraska and Ohio have introduced a bill that aims to increase protections for certain public safety personnel and U.S. judges.

The Back the Blue Act – sponsored by Reps. Don Bacon (Neb.), Bill Johnson (Ohio) and Steve Stivers (Ohio) – raises the criminal penalties for harming federally funded law enforcement members, firefighters, chaplains, rescue teams, ambulance crews or U.S. judges. The bill would carry a minimum mandatory sentence of 30 years for killing a member of one of those groups and 10 years for attempted murder, Bacon’s office announced Tuesday.

The bill would create a new federal crime with escalating penalties for assaulting a federal law enforcement officer, based on the severity of the injury and what kind of weapon was used.

The bill would also create an aggravating factor for federal death penalty prosecutions, expand self-defense and Second Amendment rights for law enforcement officers, and opens grant funding for community policing programs.

Sen. John Cornyn (Texas) is introducing similar legislation in the U.S. Senate, according to the release.

“Those who protect our communities – whether it’s on the beat, from the bench, behind a hose, or performing CPR – deserve extra protection from violence directed at them, including assault, intent to kill or conspiracy to kill,” said Bacon in a statement. “I am looking forward to working with Sen. Cornyn and Reps. Johnson and Stivers to get this long-overdue legislation passed into law.”