May 06 2024

Graham, Tillis Introduce Bipartisan Protect And Serve Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), along with eight other Senators, introduced the Protect and Serve Act — bipartisan legislation that would make knowingly causing or attempting to cause bodily injury to a law enforcement officer a federal crime. 

Last week, four law enforcement officers were tragically killed in Charlotte, North Carolina, while executing an arrest warrant on a known fugitive. Three of the officers killed were part of the Carolinas Regional Fugitive Task Force, which covers North and South Carolina, and the fourth officer killed was a deputy with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department who was responding to the scene.

“I’m very pleased to support Senator Tillis’ legislation to protect our men and women in blue,” said Senator Graham. “We should do everything we can to support law enforcement officers on the job. This bill would make it a federal crime to attack a police officer in the line of duty, in order to deter these types of attacks from occurring. Now is the time for America to be clear that we support law enforcement – not just by words, but by action.”

“Law enforcement officers in North Carolina and across the country are heroes who risk their lives every day to protect our communities,” said Senator Tillis. “Those who commit senseless acts of violence against law enforcement officers must be held accountable for their actions, which is why I am proud to reintroduce this legislation that creates federal penalties for criminals who target law enforcement. They put their lives on the line to protect us, and we should do the work in Congress to protect them.”

Graham and Tillis were joined by U.S. Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), John Hoeven (R-North Dakota), Kevin Cramer (R- North Dakota), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Steve Daines (R-Montana), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia). 

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. The legislation was first introduced in 2020.

Full text of the bill is available HERE.

Background and support for the Protect and Serve Act:

The National Fraternal Order of Police reports as of December 31, 2023, there were 378 officers shot in the line of duty in 2023. Of those officers shot, 46 of them were killed. There were 115 ambush-style attacks on law enforcement officers last year. These ambush-style attacks resulted in 138 officers shot, 20 of whom were killed.

The Protect and Serve Act would address this problem by giving federal prosecutors the tools they need to hold accountable those 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, 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 if the offense includes kidnapping, attempted kidnapping, or attempted murder.

The Protect and Serve Act has been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, Sergeant Benevolent Association, Major County Sheriffs of America, National Narcotic Officers' Associations' Coalition, and the National Association of Police Organizations.

“This legislation is a priority for the FOP and was drafted as a direct response to the increased number of targeted attacks on law enforcement officers by imposing, in very limited circumstances, Federal penalties on individuals who deliberately and violently attack local, State or Federal law enforcement officers,” said Patrick Yoes, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police. “As of 30 April 2024, 136 officers were shot in the line of duty, 20 of whom were killed. There have been 26 ambush-style attacks on law enforcement in which 34 officers were shot, six of whom were killed. We are grateful to Senator Tillis for leading the charge on this issue. We look forward to working with them to get this measure to the floor.”

“The tragedy in Charlotte, North Carolina on April 29 once again highlights the dangerous profession law enforcement officers have and the risks they face when serving and protecting their communities,” said Bill Johnson, Executive Director of the National Association of Police Organizations. “The shooting of those eight officers is just adding to the ever-increasing number of officers being shot in the line of duty. NAPO is calling on Congress to take up and pass the Protect and Serve Act to demonstrate that the killing or the attempted killing of our nation’s law enforcement officers is unacceptable and those who commit these heinous crimes must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We thank Senator Tillis for his commitment to and support for the law enforcement community.”

“In the face of a continued rise in attacks on our nation’s federal, state, and local law enforcement officers, the SBA is proud to once again support the Protect and Serve Act and urge Congress to expedite passage of this important legislation,” said President Vincent Vallelong of the Sergeants Benevolent Association of the New York City Police Department.  “As we saw in the murder of NYPD Officer Jonathan Diller in March and this week in Charlotte with the senseless and brutal attack on members of a U.S. Marshals’ fugitive task force, law enforcement officers must maintain constant vigilance to the threats posed by those who seek to do them harm for nothing more than the badge and uniform they wear. That is why we are grateful for Sen. Tillis’ strong and consistent leadership in advancing this critical officer safety measure that will combat targeted violence against our members and officers across this country who protect and serve their communities.”

“The Major County Sheriffs of America (MCSA) is proud to support the Protect and Serve Act,” said Megan Noland, Executive Director of the Major County Sheriffs of America. “This legislation will ensure individuals who attack officers are held accountable and assist our efforts to deter further violence against law enforcement. We thank the sponsors for their leadership and stand ready to support all efforts to quickly advance this important legislation.”