A Texas state representative filed a bill on Nov. 21 which would make it a hate crime to attack a police officer.
“We’re going to ask that it become an emergency legislative item for the governor so that, as soon as we get to Austin in January, we pass it right away; make it law right away,” Republican State Rep. Jason Villalba told WFAA.
Villalba filed the bill one day after a San Antonio police detective was shot dead during a confrontation with a suspect. And Dallas was the location where a sniper killed five cops in July.
After the Dallas attack, Republican Gov. Greg Abbot of Texas called for legislation addressing violence against police officers.
If passed, Villalba’s bill would also increase penalties for attacks on firefighters and paramedics.
“Texas will arm our prosecutors, D.A.’s and judges with every tool they need to punish to the fullest extent possible those who harm our first responders,” Villalba said.
“‘Hate Crime’ statutes have been long accepted by Texas lawmakers as a way to dis-incent offenders from acting solely out of prejudice or hate,” reads a part of the bill, tweeted by Villalba on Nov. 21. “Correspondingly, an offense against a first responder, specifically based on the first responder status of the victim, should also result in heightened punishments, up to and including the death penalty, to the offender.”
According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, 58 police officers have been killed by gunfire so far in 2016 — the highest number since 2010, when 68 cops were gunned down.
Overall, however, violence against police officers is down, as part of an ongoing trend since the 1970s, according to The Washington Post. 2013 and 2015 were a couple of the safest years on record for police.
But, with the spike this year, especially in Texas, where seven cops have been gunned down so far in 2016, many police officers are on edge.
“In the wake of the tragic ambush that occurred in San Antonio along with the other three police shootings that happened across the nation yesterday, I have reminded our officers to take extreme caution as they perform their duties and to always be aware of their surroundings and cover each other,” Dallas Police Department Interim Chief David Pughes wrote to his team, according to WFAA.
Sources: WFAA, Officer Down Memorial Page, Jason Villalba/Twitter, The Washington Post / Photo Credit: Hourick/Wikipedia