Texas Governor Greg Abbott proposed legislation to strengthen penalties for crimes committed against law enforcement officers — the Police Protection Act — to make targeting police with acts of violence a hate crime.
Abbott unveiled his proposal Monday. It comes in response to the deadly attack against Dallas police officers on July 7 when Micah Xavier Johnson shot and killed five officers, injuring nine others at an otherwise peaceful Black Lives Matter protest. Days after the massacre, Abbott told Dallas police “you have a governor who has your back.” The proposed law makes good on that pledge. Abbott verbalized Texas will not put up with this kind of criminal behavior.
“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,” he said in a written statement and later over social media.
Texas is saying no more. Announced the Police Protection Act to stand with those who serve & protect our communities https://t.co/eLZzNgbDfe
— Gov. Greg Abbott (@GovAbbott) July 18, 2016
“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,” stated Abbott.
Aside classifying anti-cop violence as a hate crime, the Police Protection Act would change the crime of assault of an officer from a third to second degree felony — which carries stiffer penalties. The legislation also includes a campaign to educate Texas youth on having respect for police by teaching them the value that officers bring to their communities.
“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,” Abbott said. “Texas will no longer tolerate disrespect for those who serve, and it must be made to clear to anyone targeting our law enforcement officials that their actions will be met with severe justice.”
Abbott illuminated the Governor’s Mansion in blue for five nights to honor the five fallen officers, also hanging the Dallas city flag. He ordered Texas flags lowered to half-staff through July 12.
— Gov. Greg Abbott (@GovAbbott) July 9, 2016
Ten days after the Dallas attack, three Baton Rouge policemen were ambushed by 29-year-old gunman identified as Gavin Long, an ex-Marine turned militant radical. Abbott hung the Louisiana flag in support of these fallen officers.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) July 18, 2016
In late May, Louisiana became the first state to extend hate crimes protection status to police officers. Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, signed legislation that expanded the definition of the state’s existing law. This takes effect on August 1 and will increase penalties for certain crimes that target law enforcement, firefighters and other first responders, including assault and arson, the Advocate reported.
The Police Protection Act follows the Back the Blue Act, introduced last week by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and cosponsors Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC). This bill would make killing cops a federal crime. Offenders could face the death penalty and a mandatory minimum 30 year sentence for murder or a minimum 10 year sentence for attempted murder.
Texas police organizations expressed support for Abbott’s proposal. Dallas Police Association President Ron Pinkston called it a “bold plan.” He said: “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.”
Kevin Lawrence, executive director of the Texas Municipal Police Association stated: “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.”
Houston Police Officers Association President Ray Hunt underscored attacks on law enforcement in the United States were “unprecedented.”
“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 Abbott.
Follow Merrill Hope, a member of the original Breitbart Texas team, on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.