Dear Senators Klobuchar and Smith,
I am writing on behalf of the members of the Fraternal Order of Police to ask you, as Senators who represent constituents who have experienced targeted violence against law enforcement officers in the State of Minnesota, to cosponsor S. 774, the “Protect and Serve Act.”
On 27 July 2021, Officer Ryan A. Bialke of the Red Lake Nation Police Department and several other officers were dispatched to conduct a welfare check. The officers spoke to the subject briefly, but the conversation ended when the man ignored the officers’ commands and retreated into the residence. Upon learning the suspect had an outstanding warrant, the officers decided to take the man into custody. As Officer Bialke entered the residence, he was met by gunfire and died at the scene. The suspect fled but was later captured, telling authorities he knew about the warrant and did not want to go back to jail.
In response to the surge of violence directed at law enforcement officers in the form of calculated and ambush-style attacks, we worked with Senator Thomas R. Tillis (R-NC) to develop S. 774, which would impose Federal penalties on individuals who deliberately target law enforcement officers with violence.
So far this year, 220 officers have been shot in the line of duty, 40 of whom were killed. The lethality of these attacks would be much greater but for the dramatic improvements in medical trauma science and anti-ballistic technology. Eighty-three officers have been shot in 67 separate ambush-style attacks, which has resulted in 20 officers being killed by gunfire. The 148% increase of ambush-style attacks from this time in 2020 is another stark reminder that our law enforcement officers are not just in harm’s way due to the dangerous nature of their profession, but that they are the targets of cowardly individuals whose sole motivation is to injure or kill a law enforcement officer.
Ambush-style attacks and violence targeting law enforcement officers have been steadily increasing in recent years. A report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation 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, 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.
In light of these chilling facts, we are asking you both to cosponsor S. 774 to address the national problem of ambushes and unprovoked attacks on our nation’s law enforcement officers. No officer should be at risk of being targeted while simply sitting in their patrol car, standing post, or heading 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 urge you to cosponsor this bill so it can be sent to the Senate floor for a vote.
On behalf of the more than 364,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, I thank you for considering the FOP’s urgent request to cosponsor S. 774. If I can provide any additional information about this bill, please do not hesitate to contact me or Executive Director Jim Pasco in our Washington, D.C. office.