WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) joined Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) to introduce the Back the Blue Act, a bill that would increase penalties against violent criminals who intentionally target law enforcement officers, provide new tools to help law enforcement protect themselves, and open up grant funding to strengthen relationships between law enforcement and their communities.
“The tragedy in Dallas demonstrated why wearing the blue uniform is one of the toughest and most dangerous jobs in America, and why so many of our law enforcement officers go to work every day not knowing whether they’ll return home safely to their families,” Senator Tillis said. “Our law enforcement officers risk their lives to protect ours, and the Back the Blue Act will enact new laws that offer them much-needed support and will make criminals think twice before targeting them. Additionally, the Back the Blue Act takes a critically important step toward building and strengthening relationships between law enforcement and the communities in which they serve.”
“Law enforcement officers selflessly put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities, and in return they deserve our unparalleled support for the irreplaceable role they serve,” Senator Cornyn said. “The Back the Blue Act sends a clear message that our criminal justice system simply will not tolerate those who viciously and deliberately target our law enforcement. As our country continues to grieve following last week’s tragedy in Dallas, we must come together in support of those who risk everything to keep us safe.”
“The sacrifice and bravery of law enforcement officers in the face of danger are part of the basic fabric that keeps our society together,” Senator Cruz said. “This bill better protects our nation’s finest by providing stronger tools for the prosecution of those who would harm law enforcement. We must stand in solidarity with our police officers, firefighters, first responders, and federal officers who selflessly run into harm’s way to protect our families and our communities. This should not be a partisan issue. This should be an issue that brings us together, united as Americans. I’m proud to stand with the men and women of American law enforcement and urge all of my Senate colleagues to do the same.”
Background on the Back the Blue Act
Creates New Criminal Provisions to Protect Law Enforcement Officers
- Creates a new federal crime for killing, attempting to kill, or conspiring to kill a federal judge, federal law enforcement officer, or federally-funded public safety officer. The offender would be subject to the death penalty and a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years for murder and a minimum sentence of 10 years for attempted murder.
- Creates a new federal crime for assaulting a federally-funded law enforcement officer, with escalating penalties including mandatory minimums, based on the extent of any injury and the use of a dangerous weapon.
- Creates a new federal crime for interstate flight to avoid prosecution for killing, attempting to kill, or conspiring to kill a federal judge, federal law enforcement officer, or federally-funded public safety officer. The offender would be subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years.
Creates a Specific Aggravating Factor for Federal Death Penalty Prosecutions
- Clarifies that the murder or attempted murder of a law enforcement officer or first responder is a statutory aggravating factor for purposes of the federal death penalty.
Opens Up Grant Funding to Help Strengthen Relationships Between Law Enforcement and Their Communities
- Expands opportunities to use grant funding to promote trust and improve relations between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
Expands Self-Defense and Second Amendment Rights for Law Enforcement Officers
- Allows law enforcement officers, subject to limited regulation, to carry firearms into federal facilities and other jurisdictions where such possession is otherwise prohibited.
Limits Federal Habeas Relief for Murders of Law Enforcement Officers
- Imposes time and substantive limits on federal courts’ review of challenges to state-court convictions for crimes involving the murder of a public safety officer when the officer was performing official duties. These changes are consistent with the fast-track procedures created in 1996, which are applied to federal death penalty cases.
Limits Recovery of Certain Civil Damages and Fees for Individuals Engaged in Felonies
- Limits the type of civil damages and attorney’s fees recoverable by a criminal as a result of purported injuries incurred during the commission of a felony or crime of violence.