House approves bill to enhance penalties for criminals who targe - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

House approves bill to enhance penalties for criminals who target law enforcement

Rep. Dwight Tosh (Source: Arkansas House) Rep. Dwight Tosh (Source: Arkansas House)
LITTLE ROCK, AR (KAIT) -

A person who commits a crime against a former or current law enforcement officer, first responder or a family member of a current or former law enforcement officer would face an enhanced sentence under a bill approved Monday by the Arkansas House. 

The state House voted 94-2, with two present, in favor of House Bill 1172, sponsored by Rep. Dwight Tosh, R-Jonesboro. 

As for family, the people covered in the bill would include a husband, wife, son, daughter, brother, sister or parent of a current or former law enforcement officer. The bill would also amend state law on the issue. 

"A person is subject to an enhanced sentence under this section if the person purposely selected the victim of an offense committed by the person because of the victim's current or former employment as a law enforcement officer or first responder because the victim was a family member of a current or former law enforcement officer or first responder," the bill notes. 

Under the bill, a person would receive the following enhanced punishment if convicted: 

  • Class A misdemeanor with a sentence greater than 90 days - an additional period of imprisonment of not more than one year. 
  • Class C felony, Class D felony or an unclassified felony - an additional period of imprisonment of at least six months but no more than two years. 
  • Class Y felony, Class A felony or Class B felony - an additional period of imprisonment of at least two years but no more than 10 years.  

However, the enhanced penalty would not happen if the victim of the offense is a law enforcement officer or first responder; and an element of the underlying offense is that the victim is a law enforcement officer or first responder. 

Tosh, who worked as a trooper and a troop commander for the Arkansas State Police before retiring, said the bill was a priority for him during the 2017 session. 

"In all my years of law enforcement experience, I have never, in my life, seen an increase of this magnitude in the assault of law enforcement officers," Tosh said

The bill now heads to the state Senate, where it is sponsored by Sens. Gary Stubblefield, R-Branch and Blake Johnson, R-Corning. 

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