Chuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, has called on Congress to expand the Federal hate crime laws to protect law enforcement officers and punish those who target these dedicated public servants.
"My thoughts and prayers over the past few weeks have been with the families of officers who were, with malice and forethought, gunned down just because they served as police officers," Canterbury said. "Enough is enough! It's time for Congress to do something to protect the men and women who protect us."
The FOP has advocated for more than a decade to expand Federal protections for law enforcement by increasing the penalties on perpetrators who select their victims because they are or are perceived to be police officers. Congressional efforts to expand the 1969 law to protect victims targeted because of their gender, perceived gender or disability succeeded in 2009.
"Congress saw a need to expand the law to protect a group of our fellow citizens who we suspected were being targeted as victims of violence," Canterbury explained. "In the last few years, ambush attacks aimed to kill or injure law enforcement officers have risen dramatically. Nineteen percent of the fatalities by firearm suffered by law enforcement in 2014 were ambush attacks." Canterbury cited several attacks last year, including:the assassination of New York City Police Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu who were shot and killed in their squad car;Corporal Bryon Dickson of the Pennsylvania State Police who was killed by a sniper as he left his barracksDetective Melvin Santiago who was slain by a suspect that assaulted a guard, stole his gun and waited for officers to respond so he could kill themLas Vegas Police Officers Igor Soldo and Alyn Beck who were murdered by two killers while they ate lunch at a local pizzeria.
"All of these officers died because of the uniforms they were wearing," Canterbury stated. "They were killed because their murderers had one purpose--to kill a cop. Enough is enough! We demand Congress act."
In the wake of the assassination attempt on the life of U.S. Representative Gabrielle D. Giffords (D-AZ), the Fraternal Order of Police supported legislation introduced in Congress that would have expanded the use of the death penalty by adding the murder or attempted murder of a law enforcement officer at any level of government, a Member of Congress, or Congressional employee as aggravating factors when considering a capital charge.
"Five deaths and the grave injuries to Representative Giffords spurred Congress into action and the FOP supported it," Canterbury said. "Nine deliberate murders of law enforcement officers in space of a single year also deserves Congressional attention. Enough is enough!"