Dallas Shootings Inspire ‘Back the Blue Act’

     WASHINGTON (CN) – U.S. Sen. John Cornyn introduced a bill Wednesday that would make the targeting and killing of police a federal crime, nearly a week after a lone sniper ambushed and killed five Dallas cops.
     Cornyn, R-Texas, and cosponsors Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., introduced the Back the Blue Act of 2016. The bill would make it a federal crime to deliberately target and kill law enforcement officers, public safety officers and federal judges.
     Defendants would face a minimum of 30 years in federal prison, up to the death penalty. They would face a minimum sentence of 10 years for attempted murder.
     The bill would also expand police officers’ self-defense rights and provide federal grant money for police departments to spend on community policing initiatives.
     “The one thing we need to do, absolutely, is to come together to show our support for those who get up every morning, put on the badge, and walk out the door, not knowing if they’ll come home at the end of the day,” Cornyn said on the Senate floor Wednesday morning. “And we can do that by sending a clear message that America will not tolerate those who seek to kill those who are duty-bound to defend us.”
     The bill would expedite court proceedings for cases involving the killing of a public safety officer, Cornyn said.
     The bill also “creates a new federal crime for interstate flight to avoid prosecution for killing, attempting to kill, or conspiring to kill a federal judge, federal law enforcement officer, or federally-funded public safety officer,” Cornyn said in a written statement. “The offender would be subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years.”
     Cornyn attended an interfaith memorial service Tuesday in downtown Dallas in memory of the killed officers – Dallas Police Department Sgt. Michael Smith, 55; Senior Cpl. Lorne Ahrens, 48; Officer Michael Krol, 40; Officer Patrick Zamarripa, 32; and Dallas Area Rapid Transit Officer Brent Thompson, 43.
     “Yesterday, President Obama stressed the need to translate our words and prayers into action,” Cornyn said. “This legislation is responsive to what the president said.”
     The shooter, Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, of Mesquite, was killed last Thursday night on the second floor of El Centro College via detonation of C-4 explosive carried by a bomb-disposal robot. Police say he began shooting at officers from an elevated position around 9 p.m. after a protest march through downtown concluded.
     Dallas Police Chief David Brown said Johnson told police negotiators that he was upset “with Black Lives Matter” and about the shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in suburban Minneapolis.
     “He said he was upset at white people,” Brown said Friday. “He said he wanted to kill white people, especially white police officers. He stated he was not affiliated with any groups, and he stated he did this alone.”

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