Sep 17 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), John Kennedy (R-LA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Rick Scott (R-FL), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Mike Braun (R-IN), Rob Portman (R-OH), David Perdue (R-GA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Roger Wicker (R-MS), James Inhofe (R-OK), and John Boozman (R-AR) introduced the Protect and Serve Act, legislation that would create federal penalties for individuals who deliberately target local, state, or federal law enforcement officers with violence.

In 2020, there have been 37 law enforcement officers killed in the U.S. This is an increase of more than 20 percent since this time last year. Of those, eight were ambushed in premeditated attacks, two were victims of an unprovoked attack, and the other 27 officers killed in the line of duty. The Protect and Serve Act would address this problem by giving federal prosecutors the tools they need to hold those accountable who target law enforcement for assault and attacks.

The Protect and Serve Act would support law enforcement officers by:

  • Making it a federal crime to knowingly cause, or attempt to cause, serious bodily injury to a law enforcement officer. Offenders are subject to imprisonment for up to 10 years.
  • An offender could receive a life sentence if a death results from the offense, or the offense includes kidnapping, attempted kidnapping, or attempted murder.

“Law enforcement officers in North Carolina and across the country put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe, and the dramatic rise in senseless acts of violence against LEOs causing injury or loss of life is simply unacceptable,” said Senator Thom Tillis. “I am committed to supporting the men and women who swear an oath to protect us, and that is why I am proud to introduce this legislation that would create federal penalties for criminals who target law enforcement officers. Particularly after the recent attacks on North Carolina Sheriff Deputy Ryan Hendrix and officers in Los Angeles, it is time to pass this legislation and send a clear message that acts of violence like this are unacceptable and that there will be no escape from justice for these criminals."

“When someone attacks a law enforcement officer, that person is also threatening all the people that officer serves and protects,” said Senator John Kennedy. “The rash of violent assaults against law enforcement is monstrous. Supporting officers in the face of unwarranted violence is key to making communities safe and prosperous. I am thankful to partner with Sen. Tillis and our colleagues to introduce a bill that does just that.” 

“The radical Left’s crusade against law and order has only encouraged violence against our brothers and sisters in blue,” Senator Kelly Loeffler said. “This year alone, we have lost nearly 40 police officers in the line of duty, far more than at this point last year. Just last weekend, in a vile and horrific act, two sheriff’s deputies in California were ambushed and shot at point-blank while doing their jobs. We cannot allow these atrocities to become the status quo. I’m proud to stand with my colleagues in defense of law enforcement and in ensuring those who attempt to perpetrate these appalling crimes are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

“This year, there have been over 20% more law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty than this time in 2019. This devastating fact can be directly accredited to the chaos that has been emboldened by elected officials who have refused to maintain law and order in their cities,” said Senator Marsha Blackburn. “Tennesseans hold our law enforcement officials in the highest regard, and expect us to provide support for them when needed. It’s unfortunate that the state of our public discourse has led us to this point.”

“South Dakota’s law enforcement officers are men and women, with families just like ours, who put their lives in danger every day to protect our communities,” said Senator Mike Rounds. “As a nation based on law and order, law enforcement officers have a critical role in our society. They do not have an easy job--it takes courage, selflessness and a desire to make your community safer. Our bill will help to make sure that individuals who target and violently attack officers will be held fully accountable for their criminal actions.” 

Senator Rick Scott said, “It is disgusting to see our law enforcement officers become targets of violence, harassment and abuse. Law enforcement officers are not the enemy - these selfless individuals are true heroes who put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities. We can’t accept these acts of violence, and I’m proud to join my colleagues in this legislation to hold individuals accountable for targeting our men and women in uniform.”

“At a time when our country is having a necessary debate about the accountability of law enforcement, officers are increasingly under assault in America. Dangerous rhetoric about defunding the police has turned into targeted violence and chaos in the streets of American cities. I’m proud to join Senator Tillis in support of this bill because the men and women who put their lives on the line every day in our communities need to know we have their backs,” Senator Shelley Moore Capito said.

“Law enforcement officers face enough job hazards already, so attacking these men and women simply for doing their jobs is inexcusable,” said Senator Tom Cotton. “Our bill will help protect police by increasingly penalties for the criminals who target them.”

“Attacks and violence against law enforcement officers are unacceptable and must be punished,”said Senator Rob Portman. “I am pleased to support this bill to enhance penalties for crimes against those who put their lives on the line every day for the safety of communities across the country. I urge my colleagues to support this bill so it can be passed and enacted quickly. We must hold those who target and assault law enforcement officers accountable for their actions and I hope this bill serves as a deterrent against future attacks. “ 

“Our women and men in law enforcement sacrifice their safety every day to protect our communities, and it’s absolutely shameful that these heroes are being targeted,” said Senator David Perdue. “These recent, senseless attacks on police officers should serve as a wakeup call that law enforcement officers need more support. Those who are committing these heinous crimes need to be held accountable, and the Protect and Serve Act will help bring swift justice to those who perpetrate acts of violent against our law enforcement officers.”  

“Every day, law enforcement officials put their lives on the line to keep our communities and families safe,” said Senator Richard Burr. “Their service is essential to ensuring safety and security in cities and towns across the nation. This legislation makes it a federal crime to knowingly cause injury to a law enforcement officer and sends a strong signal of support to law enforcement as they continue to protect our communities.” 

“The violence we’ve seen directed at law enforcement officers and other law-abiding Americans over the past few months is appalling and only continues to escalate,” Senator James Inhofe said. “I remain committed to law enforcement officers in Oklahoma and across this nation. That’s why I am proud to join Sen. Tillis in introducing the Protect and Serve Act which puts federal penalties in place to punish violent criminals who intentionally target our nation’s officers.” 

“Law enforcement officers risk their lives daily to protect our communities, responding to calls for help while not knowing what challenges they will face. There simply is no justification for the cowardly, cold-blooded attacks on officers that we have recently witnessed. I am proud to join Senator Tillis and my colleagues to introduce legislation that will carry severe consequences for anyone who attempts to target officers for violent attacks. We have to do all we can to hold perpetrators accountable and hopefully stop these heinous acts before they happen,” Senator John Boozman said. 

This law would apply to federal law enforcement officers and would also apply to state and local officers in circumstances where the federal government can establish jurisdiction over the case. Companion legislation was introduced last year by Congressman John Rutherford (FL-4) and Congresswoman Val Demings (FL-10) in the House of Representatives.

The Protect and Serve Act has been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, National Association of Police OrganizationsFederal Law Enforcement Officers Association, Sergeants Benevolent Association, and Major County Sheriffs of America.

Read a one-pager of the legislation here and text of the legislation here.