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Politics

Kansas House Bill Would Allow Harsher Penalties For Crimes Against Law Enforcement

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J J, flickr Creative Commons
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At the request of Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, the House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee introduced a bill Thursday that would increase criminal penalties for crimes targeting law enforcement officers.

Under current law, only specific crimes targeting officers, such as assault, battery or first-degree premeditated murder, are eligible for an enhanced penalty. If enacted, House Bill 2049 would enhance sentences for any crime against a law enforcement officer while the officer was on duty or because of the officer’s status as a member of law enforcement.

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Credit http://ag.ks.gov/
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt.

“Crimes against law enforcement officers are more than an offense against the individual person,” Schmidt said in a press release. “They also are an offense against the legitimate authority to enforce law and order in our communities. At a time when too many around the country have leveled unfair criticism at the men and women serving in law enforcement, I hope Kansas will show its strong support by enacting this additional protection.”

Schmidt says the bill was prompted by a second-degree attempted murder charge where an officer was the victim, but under the current law prosecutors couldn't enhance the sentence. He tells KMUW the legislation is timely and a good way for the state to show its support for law enforcement.

"This is one way the Legislature has the ability to demonstrate that support in a substantive matter that at least, in our view, makes good sense in the overall structure of Kansas law," Schmidt says.

Schmidt says he has been encouraged by the supportive reaction the bill has received from lawmakers and is hopeful the Legislature will give the bill strong consideration.

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Follow Abigail Beckman on Twitter @AbigailKMUW.

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