Lawmakers introduced legislation Tuesday to imprison people for up to 10 years for seriously injuring a police officer, saying federal punishment is needed to curb "cowardly assaults" on police, BuzzFeed News reported.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, rolled out the Senate version of the bill, which is co-sponsed by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., while Rep. John Rutherford, R-Fla., is sponsoring the House version.
In a statement, Hatch says the bill "makes clear that no criminal will be able to escape justice when he singles out and assaults those who put on the badge every day to keep us safe."
The overall number of officers killed in felony homicides has fluctuated from 2007 to 2016, according to FBI statistics. They show a low point of 41 killings in 2008 and 2015, and a peak of 72 killings in 2011.
The figures also show a jump in premeditated officer ambushes in 2016, when there were 17 such deaths, compared to between one and nine the previous decade.
Police groups are advocating for the measure, but civil rights groups warn the legislation, which echoes language used in hate crime laws, could manipulate the intent of those hate crime measures, BuzzFeed News reported.
"There is no doubt that police work is a dangerous undertaking, but the reality is that there has been a continuing decline in the number of officers killed or assaulted in the line of duty over the last several decades," groups including the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund said in a letter to senators, the outlet reported.
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