After the tragedy in Dallas that cost five members of law enforcement their lives, Texas GOP Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz introduced legislation Wednesday increasing penalties on anyone who targets police.
Called the “Back the Blue Act,” the bill makes it a federal crime to kill, attempt or conspire to kill anyone in law enforcement, including federal judges, subject to the death penalty, with a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years for murder and a minimum sentence of 10 years for attempted murder.
In Dallas last Thursday night, the shooter, Micah Xavier Johnson, upset over police shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota, targeted white police officers. Johnson was killed by a robotic bomb set off by police.
“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,” Cornyn said in a release with Cruz and another co-sponsor, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C.
“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,” said Cornyn, a former Texas Supreme Court judge. On the Senate floor Wednesday, he said, “There is no justification – zero, zip, nada – for violence against police officers.”
Cruz, who was Texas’ solicitor general, 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.”
Tillis said, “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.”
The bill would increase penalties against criminals who 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.