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RELEASE: Police Protection Legislation Passes Public Safety Committee

Thursday, March 22, 2018

ST. PAUL – On Thursday, the House Public Safety Committee heard the Police Protection Legislation by Public Safety Chair Brian Johnson (R-Cambridge) and Rep. Matt Grossell (R-Clearbrook). Chair Johnson’s bill (HF3610) would increase the penalty for assaulting a police officer and Rep. Grossell's (HF4082) bill would prevent police disarmament by local agencies.

“Any law enforcement officer that has been in these situations will tell you: there is a stark difference between assaulting an officer and resisting arrest,” said Chair Johnson, a retired law enforcement officer. “It is important that we increase the punishment for assaulting the officers that selflessly serve and protect their communities every day; we owe it to these men and women to pass this bill this session.”

Chair Johnson's bill will change a physical assault against a peace officer from a gross misdemeanor to a felony. It will carry a maximum sentence of up to two years in prison or a fine up to $4,000, or both.

“As a former law enforcement officer, I know how they put their lives on the line every day in service to the public,” said Rep. Grossell. “Every day there are situations that go from non-threatening and escalate to life-threatening. For the safety of the officer and the public, the idea of local politicians disarming police is dangerous. This bill is about keeping our police officers and the public they serve safe.”

Rep. Grossell’s bill will prevent a mayor, city council, county board, or chief law enforcement officer from disarming a peace officer who is in good standing and not currently under investigation or subject to disciplinary action. Rep. Grossell, who was shot in the line of duty while responding to a minor disturbance call, authored this bill in response to calls from local politicians proposing to disarm police.

Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Alexandria) is the author of the Senate companion to House File 4082.

"I’m shocked we’re even having this discussion. Disarming the police sends a signal to criminals that the rule of law will not be enforced,” said Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, a former Douglas County Sheriff from 1991-2007. “We already have a shortage of qualified police officers; who will volunteer to defend our citizenry from dangerous, armed criminals without a reasonable means to defend their own lives? Without a gun, how would the school resource officer have stopped the deranged shooter at Great Mills High School in Maryland this week? Many students would have died without his heroic actions.”

Chair Johnson's bill passed out of committee and will next be heard in the Ways and Means Committee. Rep. Grossell’s bill passed out of committee and will next be heard in Government Operations and Election Policy Committee.