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House votes to up penalties on officer attacks

March 13th, 2019

— A bill to increase the penalty for assaulting a law enforcement officer with a firearm cleared the House Wednesday in a unanimous vote.

House Bill 224 covers armed attacks on law enforcement, probation officers and parole officers when they’re on duty, as well as anyone on duty at a prison. The offense would go from a Class E felony to a Class D felony.

The average sentence for a Class E conviction is 28 months, compared to 64 months for Class D felonies, according to a research note attached to the bill.

Not all Class E convictions, though, result in prison time. House Speaker Tim Moore’s office said this legislation would require at least three years in prison.

Anyone who attacks an officer with a gun “should go to prison for at least some time,” Moore, R-Cleveland, said during Wednesday’s bill debate.

“Let our men and women in blue know that we have their backs,” he said.

The bill heads now to the Senate for more discussion.

A separate bill, known as Conner’s Law in honor of slain State Highway Patrol Trooper Kevin Conner, would likewise increase the penalty for assaulting a law enforcement officer with a gun, as well as increasing the death benefits to families of officers killed in the line of duty. That bill cleared the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

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