In the twilight hours of September 10, Henderson County Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Hendrix responded to a call from a frightened family under siege by a violent criminal. Once Deputy Hendrix and others arrived on the scene, the criminal suspect showed his hands in a sign of surrender. But this murderer had no intention of surrendering and fired a round at Deputy Hendrix, hitting him in the face. Later that day, Deputy Hendrix was dead. His service to others extended beyond his own life, as he gave life to others as an organ donor.
This startling story from my home state is just one of too many examples of assaults against our hard-working and dedicated law enforcement officers. Two days after the death of Deputy Hendrix, Americans learned of the brutal shooting of two Sheriff Deputies in Los Angeles. This targeted, unprovoked attack shocked the nation and left the officers in critical condition. Thankfully, both survived the attempted murder.
Even before these horrific attacks, it was clear to me that Congress needed to act to protect the lives of our law enforcement officers. So far this year, there have been 40 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. This is a more than 20 percent increase in the number of officers killed during this same time last year. That’s in addition to the hundreds who have been shot in the line of duty this year.
Despite these senseless deaths and the gruesome violence against police, there are those who support radical ideas like defunding or abolishing the police. These dangerous policies would allow criminals to roam free through our communities, unchallenged and unafraid. The agitators pushing to abolish the police have sown the seeds of discord in our country by disrespecting law enforcement and disregarding their brave service to our nation.
That’s why I introduced the Protect and Serve Act, legislation that would punish dangerous criminals who target law enforcement officers and harm them. These criminals will receive up to 10 years in prison, and if they murder or kidnap a law enforcement officer, they will be given a life sentence.
It’s sad that Congress even needs to consider a bill to protect police officers. The radical left’s rhetoric calling to “abolish the police” has encouraged an environment of hostility towards law enforcement. They have emboldened people to target and harm law enforcement officers. Officers already have a dangerous line of work, and it’s sad my Democratic colleagues have made it even harder with their vitriolic attacks against the police.
Let me be clear: attacks of any kind against law enforcement are no laughing matter. Congress must pass the Protect and Serve Act immediately, and proudly say that there is no escape from justice for dangerous criminals who intentionally assault and kill our hardworking, dedicated law enforcement officers. As long as I am a US Senator, I will do anything and everything I can to protect the hardworking men and women in blue. The American people expect and deserve no less.