Attorney General Ashley Moody wrote to Congress Tuesday, urging lawmakers to take up a bill that would impose federal penalties against anyone who deliberately attacks a law enforcement officer.
The bill, H.R. 1325, would call for a federal prison term of no more than 10 years for anyone who knowingly assaults a law enforcement officer, “causing serious bodily injury under circumstances where the crime affects interstate or foreign commerce.”
Violators could also be subject to imprisonment for “any term of years or for life” if they attempted to kill or kidnap a law enforcement officer.
H.R. 1325 is also known as the Protect and Serve Act of 2019.
“Legislation identical to the Protect and Serve Act of 2019 received overwhelming, bipartisan support in passing the U.S. House just a few years ago, then somehow stalled,” Moody said in a news release. “But this Act is needed now more than ever, as law enforcement officer deaths are rising at an alarming pace. I am calling on our congressional leaders to demonstrate courage and stand up for our officers who risk their lives daily to protect American communities we all love. PASS THE ACT.”
Moody’s call to action comes as the 2020 death toll among law enforcement surpasses that of 2019. According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, 157 law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty this year. In contrast, 147 did in all of 2019.
The national trend is also true in Florida, where more officers have died this year in comparison to the last. As of Wednesday, nine Florida law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty in 2020. At least six of those officers died after contracting COVID-19 and two others were murdered.
“As Florida’s Attorney General and the wife of a law enforcement officer, the increase in line-of-duty deaths is both heartbreaking and infuriating,” Moody said Tuesday of the national trend. “We have seen law enforcement officers on the front lines of this pandemic contract COVID-19 and die. We have also seen deliberate, brutal attacks on officers across the country and even right here in Florida.”
The measure is co-sponsored by two Florida lawmakers, Rep. Val Demings and Rep. John Rutherford.