Dear Mr. Chairman and Representative Jordan,
I am writing on behalf of the members of the Fraternal Order of Police to urge the Committee on the Judiciary to consider and favorably report H.R. 1325, the “Protect and Serve Act.” It has been almost a year since I appeared before you and the Committee during an oversight hearing on police practices and asked the Committee to consider this bill, which remains a top FOP priority.
Our country has faced numerous challenges in the past 12 months, especially in policing. The FOP has been working and continues to work cooperatively with both the majority and minority on police reform in the House. We still believe that we can make progress on issues like the “Protect and Serve Act,” where there is broad and bipartisan support. In the previous Congress, both of you voted for this same legislation in Committee and on the floor. In fact, the Committee on the Judiciary passed the bill unanimously and the House passed it on an overwhelming 382-35 vote.
The unprovoked ambush attack on two deputies of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) is just the latest example of why this legislation is so critical for the safety and morale of our nation’s law enforcement officers. Eighteen percent (18%) of the officers killed by gunfire in 2019 died as a result of an ambush. So far this year, 228 officers have been shot in the line of duty, 35 of whom died. The lethality of these attacks would be much greater but for dramatic improvements in medical trauma science and antiballistic technology. Twenty-four law enforcement officers have been ambushed this year, seven of whom were killed.
Congress should act and act now to address the terrible violence aimed at our law enforcement officers by passing H.R. 1325, which would impose Federal penalties on individuals who deliberately target local, State or Federal law enforcement officers with violence in specific circumstances. This bill sends a strong message of support to the men and women in the line of fire and to those who would seek to do them harm.
These types of attacks, and violence targeting law enforcement officers in general, has been steadily increasing in recent years. A recent report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) concluded: “While the overall number of officers who were feloniously killed was declining, the percentage of officers feloniously killed during surprise attacks was increasing.” A December 2017 study by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), which examined law enforcement officer fatalities from 2010-2016, found that 20% of ambushed officers were seated in their patrol cars and 56% of officers killed in an ambush were not on a call or engaged in any enforcement activity. Many of these officers were simply eating, sitting on post, or were targeted and killed while at their home or on their way home.
Despite this, apart from the floor vote on the “Protect and Serve Act” in 2018, Congress has done nothing to address the national problem of ambushes, unprovoked attacks, and targeted violence against our nation’s law enforcement officers. Today, we are calling on you and this Committee to consider and pass the “Protect and Serve Act” to protect officers like the two LASD deputies fighting for their lives as well as the seven fallen heroes who were ambushed and killed by cowardly murderers:
Officer Kaulike Kalama
Honolulu Police Department, Hawaii
Officer Tiffany-Victoria Bilon Enriquez
Honolulu Police Department, Hawaii
Police Officer Nick O’Rear
Kimberly Police Department, Alabama
Trooper Joseph Jon Bullock
Florida Highway Patrol, Florida
Corporal Andrew J. Gillette
Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, South Carolina
Sergeant Ricardo Perez-Ortiz
Puerto Rico Police Department, Puerto Rico
Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller
Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, California
To be in law enforcement is to put yourself in harms’ way, but no officer should be at risk while simply sitting in their patrol car, standing a post, or heading for home at the end of a shift. When a member of the public calls for help, we answer that call. We are asking for your help now, and we urge this Committee to consider the “Protect and Serve Act” and once again send it to the House floor for a vote.
On behalf of the more than 355,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, I thank you for considering the FOP’s urgent request to consider H.R. 1325. If I can provide any additional support for this bill or on any other matter, please do not hesitate to contact me or Executive Director Jim Pasco in my Washington, D.C. office.
cc: The Honorable Steny H. Hoyer, Majority Leader, U.S. House of Representatives
The Honorable Kevin O. McCarthy, Minority Leader, U.S. House of Representative