Austin, Texas July 20, 2016
On July 18, 2016, Governor Greg Abbott announced an effort to strengthen penalties for crimes committed against law enforcement officers – the Police Protection Act.
“At a time when law enforcement officers increasingly come under assault simply because of the job they hold, Texas must send a resolute message that the State will stand by the men and women who serve and protect our communities,” said Governor Abbott.
The proposal is punctuated by making it a hate crime for anyone to commit a crime against a law enforcement officer out of bias against the police. The Governor will request the Texas legislature to pass the Police Protection Act in the 2017 legislative session.
“While our state and the nation continue to mourn the heroes lost in Dallas, it is time for us to unite as Texans to say no more,” Governor Abbott continued. “The men and women in uniform risk their lives every day to protect the public, and it is time we show them the State of Texas has their back. Texas will no longer tolerate disrespect for those who serve, and it must be made clear to anyone targeting our law enforcement officials that their actions will be met with severe justice.”
Governor Abbott’s Police Protection Act includes the following proposals:
- Extend hate crime protections to law enforcement officers;
- Increase criminal penalties for any crime in which the victim is a law enforcement officer, whether or not the crime qualifies as a hate crime;
- Create a culture of respect for law enforcement by organizing a campaign to educate young Texans on the value law enforcement officers bring to their communities;
For example, under current law, assault with bodily injury is generally punishable as a Class A misdemeanor, while assault on a public servant, including a law enforcement officer, is a 3rd degree felony. Under Governor Abbott’s proposal, in cases where the assault is on a law enforcement officer, the penalty would increase to a 2nd degree felony.
“The recent shooting in Dallas is not the first time law enforcement officers in Texas have been targeted. Our goal is to do everything possible to make it the last,” added Governor Abbott.
Law enforcement organizations in Texas offered the following statements in response to Governor Abbott’s Police Protection Act:
“As a 26-plus year police officer in Houston, I’m extremely encouraged by Governor Greg Abbott’s legislative priority to make the State of Texas a national leader in protecting the lives of law enforcement officers. The attacks on law enforcement in Texas and the rest of our nation are unprecedented. Governor Abbott’s solution is the right approach for Texas law enforcement officers and the people of Texas who support them.” – Ray Hunt, President, Houston Police Officers Association
“We applaud Governor Abbott for recognizing the importance of protecting law enforcement officers in the state of Texas. False narratives and irresponsible anti-police rhetoric have put our officers in greater danger than ever before. This is an important step toward protecting those who protect the citizens of this great state.” – Kevin Lawrence, Executive Director, Texas Municipal Police Association
“The Dallas Police Association applauds Governor Abbott’s bold plan in response to the recent wave of attacks on police officers. Now is the time for our elected leaders across our state and country to do the right thing and join our Governor in his call to better protect police officers.” – Ron Pinkston, President, Dallas Police Association
“The Sheriff’s Association of Texas is very pleased to hear our Governor is behind an effort to protect peace officers across our state. Every Texas Sheriff feels this should be a precedent for the leadership in other states to follow, and we support our Governor. We look forward to working with the Governor during the 2017 legislative session to pass these important protections.” – Grimes County Sheriff Donald Sowell, President, The Sheriff’s Association of Texas
What others are saying about Governor Abbott’s proposed “Police Protection Act.”
“Greg Abbott Is Fighting Back” … “We Firmly Support” … “Sending A Stronger Message”
Captain John Coffee Of The Potter County Sheriff’s Department Said He Believes Law Enforcement Will Be “100% Behind” The Police Protection Act. “I think the law enforcement community will be 100% behind this and I believe the legislators will be behind this. This is a good thing, this is something positive in stepping forward towards a positive movement for law enforcement.” (KDFA-TV, Amarillo, 7/19/16)
Police Chief David Cross Of The Crockett Police Department Said The Support From The Governor & The Police Protection Act “Helps Us In Doing Our Job.”Chief Cross: “We have support from our government officials and our Governor and others that back our department which we’ve seen. In law enforcement that gratefully helps us in doing our job.” (KLTV-TV, Tyler, 7/18/16)
- HEADLINE: “Crockett Law Enforcement Gets Behind New Police Protection Act” (Thomas Hoce, Crockett Law Enforcement Gets Behind New Police Protection Act, KLTV-TV, 7/19/16)
Commander John Johnson Of The Corpus Christi Police Department Said The Police Protection Act “Sends A Stronger Message.” Commander Johnson: “It’s actually sending a stronger message that in Texas they won’t tolerate officers being the victims of bodily injury.” (KIII-TV, Corpus Christi, 7/19/16)
Lt. John Cummins Of The Taylor County Sheriff’s Office Applauded The Police Protection Act & The Governor For “Leading The Way” In Addressing Law Enforcement Concerns In Texas. Lt. John Cummins: “The problems across our state and nation regarding attacks on law enforcement officers deserve the careful attention of our legislative bodies. We applaud Gov. Abbott for leading the way in addressing these concerns within Texas. Hopefully with changes in the law, these attacks will become less frequent.” (Will Jensen, “Gov. Abbott Seeks Stiffer Penalties For Crimes Against Officers,” KTXS-TV, 7/18/16)
Amarillo Globe-News Editorial: “Gov. Greg Abbott Is Right In Asking The Texas Legislature To Approve His Police Protection Act.” (Editorial, A ‘Hate’ Crime Law Worth Supporting, Amarillo Globe-News, 7/19/16)
- HEADLINE: “A ‘Hate’ Crime Law Worth Supporting” (Editorial, A ‘Hate’ Crime Law Worth Supporting, Amarillo Globe-News, 7/19/16)
McAllen Monitor Editorial: “We Firmly Support [Governor Abbott’s Police Protection Act].” “It’s clear that stricter federal and state laws and penalties must be administered to deter malicious behavior toward our nation’s peace officers. That is why we firmly support two recent measures proposed by Texas lawmakers to help deter crimes against law enforcement personnel.” (Editorial, “We Must Protect Our Police,” McAllen Monitor, 7/18/16)
Joe Baeze Of The Laredo Police Department Said The Police Protection Act Is “A Step In The Right Direction.” Baeze: “Additional laws puts more punitive bite into protecting officers who are on the line of duty. It’s a step in the right direction. People will think twice, especially if they are planning on doing these types of things.” (KGNS-TV, Laredo, 7/19/16)
KTBC-TV’s Amanda Salinas: “Governor Greg Abbott Is Fighting Back.” “Following the murders of police officers in Baton Rouge and Dallas, Governor Greg Abbott is fighting back.” (KTBC-TV, Austin, 7/19/16)
KVEO-TV’s Emily Jimenez: “Governor Greg Abbott Is Taking Action.” “Gov. Greg Abbott is taking action in protecting law enforcement officers from hate crimes.” (KVEO-TV, Harlingen, 7/18/16)
KXAS-TV’s Jeff Smith: “There Is A Lot Of Support For The Governor’s Plan.” “There is a lot of support for the Governor’s plan. They believe that making attacks on law enforcement officers as a hate crime would create a culture of respect and civility towards law enforcement.” (KXAS-TV, Dallas, 7/18/16)