State Senators passed a bill Thursday designed to support the efforts of law enforcement officials in the state.
Dubbed the “Back the Badge Act,” Senate Bill 160 increases punishment to individuals who commit certain crimes against public safety officers.
House committee members changed the definition in the bill from peace officer to public safety officer to clarify that “only those individuals who wear the badge” would be protected. They also decreased the mandatory minimum sentence from five years to three years for individuals who use items other than a firearm to assault officers.
The bill includes language from House Bill 258, which related to the use of a firearm in aggravated assault, and from Senate Bill 154, which imposed civil fines on such actions.
Public Safety Committee Chairman Tyler Harper said the bill was updated “to make sure it’s clear we’re referring to individuals who willfully and knowingly” take aggressive action against officers. “That is the intent of the law,” Harper said.
Committee members removed that section to Harper’s objection, but he said he was still “good with the underlying bill.”
The bill, which passed 49-3, now moves to the Governor’s desk.