Dear Representatives Rutherford and Gottheimer,
I am writing on behalf of the members of the Fraternal Order of Police to advise you of our strong support for H.R. 3079, the “Protect and Serve Act.”
This bill is a legislative priority for the FOP and takes on a particular urgency in the wake of the most recent ambush attack on a police officer with the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department just one week ago. Officer Brian Sherman was dispatched to an active shooter call and was met by gunfire in what the agency described as “a ruse” to allow an officer to be targeted. Fortunately, Officer Sherman survived the incident and his shooter committed suicide with a rifle before he could be taken into custody.
This legislation would impose, in limited circumstances, Federal penalties on individuals who deliberately target local, State or Federal law enforcement officers with violence. In 2020, 313 officers were shot in the line of duty, 47 of whom were killed by gunfire. There were 44 ambush attacks on law enforcement officers, which resulted in 52 officers being shot, 12 of whom were killed. So far this year, 105 officers have been shot and 23 officers have been killed. Twenty of these attacks were ambushes, resulting in 25 officers having been shot, eight of whom died. These figures include six officers shot and three killed in Florida.
Ambush attacks and violence targeting law enforcement officers in general have 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. To be in law enforcement is to put yourself in harm’s 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.
We believe the House should act now—just as it did when it passed this same legislation just three years ago on an overwhelming 382-35 vote. Passing the “Protect and Serve Act” would send a strong show of support for the men and women in the line of fire and a clear message to those who would seek to do them harm.
On behalf of the more than 356,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, I thank you for your leadership and for your support of the men and women in law enforcement. I look forward to working with you and your staff to get this bill to the House floor for a vote. If I can provide any additional information or support for this effort, please do not hesitate to contact me or Executive Director Jim Pasco in our Washington, D.C. office.