Senate bill looks to raise penalty for harming or killing first responders
JEFFERSON CITY - Legislation regarding the safety of Missouri law enforcement officers and first responders continues to be a hot topic of conversation at the Capitol following a Senate committee hearing Monday.
Senate Bill 46, sponsored by Sen. Doug Libla, R-Greenville, looks to raise the class of the felony a person can be charged with for assault or killing a law enforcement officer or first responder and extend the sentencing time receivable for the crime.
Under current legislation, second degree assault against a law enforcement officer is a Class B Felony, punishable by 5-15 years in prison. Under the proposal, the assault would be a Class A Felony, punishable by 10-30 years or even life in prison.
"We’ve got to send a message that we are not going to allow law enforcement officers, our brave women and men out there in uniform, and our first responders have to fear for their safety, have to worry about getting shot," Libla said during the Senate's Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee Monday.
The hearing was met with some reservations by committee member Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, who expressed concern over the bill's lack of language regarding those injured during an encounter with a law enforcement officer.
The bill joins a handful of proposed legislation regarding first responder safety under review in both chambers this session.
House Bill 57, sponsored by Rep. Marsha Haefner, R-St. Louis, would deem certain offenses, specifically targeted against law enforcement officers, as hate crimes.
In addition, House Bills 302 and 228, are calling for the state to establish a Blue Alert System. Working in a manner similar to an Amber Alert when a child goes missing, a Blue Alert is aimed at advancing the speed at which the attacker of a law enforcement officer is apprehended.
According to the National Blue Alert System website, 27 states have so far implemented the blue alert.