State Sen. Elliott pushing bill to better protect law enforcement officers, punish violence against them
MONTGOMERY — State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Spanish Fort) is continuing his strong advocacy for legislation that would allow for harsher penalties against those who commit acts of violence against a law enforcement officer.
Yellowhammer News has previously reported on SB 36, Elliott’s bill that essentially makes employment as a law enforcement officer a protected class, just like race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, or physical or mental disability. This could make targeted violence against a law enforcement officer a hate crime, which would be subject to heightened criminal penalties for perpetrators.
“Every day, our law enforcement officers risk their lives to serve and protect Alabamians,” Elliott said in a statement Tuesday. “It’s vital that we do everything we can to ensure their safety and to punish, to the fullest extent of the law, those who target them. This bill extends that justice even further, and hits even harder, the criminals who attempt to do harm to police officers and sheriffs.”
The bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 5, the first day of the regular session, however, it has still not received consideration by the committee and is not on the schedule for this week.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) previously told Yellowhammer News that he is supportive of Elliott’s bill and believes it will gain significant traction in the chamber.
He called SB 36 “a reasonable approach.”
“I think [Elliott’s] bill is balanced and it’s also justified,” Ward advised.
SB 36 was introduced in the wake of the shooting death of Mobile Police Department’s Sean Tudor.
“We must honor the sacrifice of Officer Tudor and others who have lost their lives in the line of duty, and ensure that these crimes never happen again,” Elliott emphasized. “That goal starts with punishing, to the greatest possible degree, those who commit violence against law enforcement officers.”
On Tuesday, Baldwin County Sheriff Hoss Mack commended Elliott for sponsoring the legislation.
“We are immensely grateful for Senator Elliott’s support of our law enforcement officers,” the sheriff said. “Our community is deeply saddened by the loss of Officer Tudor. Senator Elliott and I have been closely working together on this plan to bring greater justice to criminals who target police officers and sheriffs, and I urge the Alabama Legislature to pass this much-needed bill.”
State Rep. Chris Sells (R-Greenville) is carrying the House companion bill to SB 36.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn