U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler has filed legislation to make the murder of a federal, state or local law enforcement officer a federal offense that can be punished by life in prison or death.
Loeffler and Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton introduced the Defending Our Defenders Act this week, following last week’s call in which Loeffler called for ‘convicted cop killers in America to be sentenced to the death penalty.’
Under federal law, a person who commits the act of murder against a federal law enforcement officer can already be punished by death, as can a state or local official assisting a federal law enforcement official. This measure merely adds local and state law enforcement officials to the applicable federal statute under any circumstance and provides additional provisions to make it easier to seek the death penalty.
The bill proposed this week would do the following:
- allows any person convicted of murder of a federal law enforcement officer in their official duties to be punished by life in prison or death;
- allows any person convicted of a killing a state or local law enforcement officer in their official duties to be punished by life in prison or death, if, in order to commit the offense, the person used mail, telephone, or radio, or the person traveled across state lines to commit the offense;
- requires the jury and/or Court to consider if the act was committed by ‘ambush;’
- requires the court/jury to consider enhanced sentencing if the person who committed the offense had previously made mention of (or acted upon) violence against law enforcement.
- requires the Court to consider if the defendant is a member of or affiliated with any organization that the Attorney General or other high ranking law enforcement official has determined to be an anarchist, domestic terrorist, or any other organization or group that actively promotes violence or the overthrow of the Federal Government.
- requires the court to consider whether or not the act was committed during a time and in a place when there was active organized activity against or targeting law enforcement officer
“The ambushes and attacks on our law enforcement must end, and they must end right now,” Loeffler said in a news release. “We have seen a steady increase in violent, ambush-style attacks and heinous killings of police officers with nearly 40 officers killed in the line of duty already in 2020 – a 20 percent increase compared to this time last year. Simply put, criminals who murder police officers deserve the harshest sentences our courts can offer. It’s time to draw the line, and my bill will hold cop killers accountable by doing just that.”
“Criminals who cut short the lives of our brave officers should be met with the fiercest penalties,” said Senator Cotton. “Killing a police officer not only ends a precious human life—it’s also an assault against the safety of every American who lives in the community that officer protects. Our bill will subject those who murder police to a punishment they deserve, life in prison or the death penalty.”
Loeffler also joined U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and 14 other colleagues in introducing the Protect and Serve Act to create federal penalties for individuals who deliberately target local, state or federal law enforcement officers with violence.
You can read the bill in its entirety here.