Governor Greg Abbott announced an effort to strengthen penalties for crimes against law enforcement officers – the Police Protection Act.
“At a time when law enforcement officers increasingly come under assault simply because of the job they hod, Texas must send a resolute message that the State will stand by the men and women who serve and protect our communities,” Gov. Abbot said.
The proposal is punctuated by making it a hate crime for anyone to commit a crime against a law enforcement officer out of bias against the police. The Governor will request the Texas legislature to pass the Police Protection Act in the 2017 legislative session.
“While our state and the nation continue to mourn the heroes lost in Dallas, it is time for us to unite as Texans to say no more,” Gov. Abbott continued. “The men and women in uniform risk their lives every day to protect the public, and it is time we show them the State of Texas has their back. Texas will no longer tolerate disrespect for those who serve, and it must be made clear to anyone targeting our law enforcement officials that their actions will be met with severe justice.”
Gov. Abbott's Police Protection Act includes the following proposals:
Extend hate crime protections to law enforcement officers;
Increase criminal penalties for any crime in which the victim is a law enforcement officer, whether or not the crime qualifies as a hate crime;
Create a culture of respect for law enforcement by organizing a campaign to educate young Texans on the value law enforcement officers bring to their communities;
For example, under current law, assault with bodily injury is generally punishable as a Class A misdemeanor, while assault on a public servant, including a law enforcement officer, is a third degree felony. Under Gov. Abbott's proposal, in cases where the assault is on a law enforcement officer, the penalty would increase to a second degree felony.
“The recent shooting in Dallas is not the first time law enforcement officers in Texas have been targeted. Our goal is to do everything possible to make it the last,” added Gov. Abbott.
Law enforcement organizations in Texas offered the following statements in response to Gov. Abbott's Police Protection Act:
“As a 26-plus year police officer in Houston, I;m extremely encouraged by Gov. Greg Abbott's legislative priority to make the State of Texas a national leader in protecting the lives of law enforcement officers. The attacks on law enforcement in Texas and the rest of our nation are unprecedented. Gov. Abbott's solution is the right approach for Texas law enforcement officers and the people of Texas who support them.” - Ray Hunt, President, Houston Police Officers Association.
“We applaud Gov. Abbott for recognizing the importance of protecting law enforcement officers in the state of Texas. False narratives and irresponsible anti-police rhetoric have put our officer in greater danger than ever before. This is an important step toward protecting those who protect the citizen of this great state.” - Kevin Lawrence, Executive Director, Texas Municipal Police Association
“The Dallas Police Association applauds Gov. Abbott's bold plan in response to the recent wave of attacks on police officers. Now is the time for our elected leaders across our state and country to do the right thing and join our Governor in his call to better protect police officer.” - Ron Pinkston, Presiden, Dallas Police Association
“The Sheriff's Association of Texas is very pleased to hear our Governor is behind an effort to protect peace officers across our state. Every Texas Sheriff feels this should be a precedent for the leadership in other states to follow, and we support our Governor. We look forward to working with the Governor during the 2017 legislative session to pass these important protections.” - Grimes County Sheriff Donald Sowell, President, The Sheriff's Association of Texas