On Feb. 8, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC, introduced a bill that would increase the penalty for anyone who assaults law enforcement officers. The bill also requires the US Attorney General to report back to Congress on prosecutions of such crimes.

The measure follows the death of a Greensboro police officer, Sgt. Philip Dale Nix, who was shot and killed on December 30, 2023. Tillis’ co-sponsors are Sen. John Cornyn, R-TX, and Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-TN. 

Nix was off duty at the time of his death but was intervening in an alleged shoplifting in progress when he was shot and killed at the Sheetz gas station on Sandy Ridge Road in Greensboro, according to a report by the Greensboro News & Record. Nix, 50, served on the Greensboro Police Department for 23 years and was supervisor of the Family Victims Unit.

Nix death follows a New Year’s mass shooting in downtown Charlotte where five police officers were injured.

The legislation, known as the “Justice for Fallen Law Enforcement Act,” would amend title 18 of the US code to “…create a criminal penalty of the death penalty or life imprisonment for the murder of a federal, state, and local enforcement officer,” according to the press release. In addition, the legislation would create a criminal penalty of 20 years in prison for assault that resulted in serious injury to local, state, and federal law enforcement officers.

“Law enforcement officers in North Carolina and across the country are heroes who risk their lives every day to protect our communities,” said Tillis. “Those who commit senseless acts of violence against law enforcement officers must be held accountable for their actions, which is why I am proud to introduce this legislation that creates harsh federal penalties for criminals who target law enforcement. They put their lives on the line to protect us, and we should do the work in Congress to protect them.” 

In addition, the bill states: “Not later than 3 years after the date of enactment of this Act, the Attorney General shall submit to the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate and the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives a report on prosecutions conducted as the result of the amendments made by this Act.” 

Attacks on law enforcement spiked in 2021, which saw the most law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty since September 11, 2001. More recently, on January 27, group of a illegal immigrants attacked on NYPD officers

“According to police, officers attempted to disperse a disorderly group on West 42nd St. when a physical altercation occurred. When the officers attempted to place an individual in custody, the suspects began to kick and punch the officers, according to the NYPD. The suspects then fled,” reported ABC News.

“The assault on our police officers in Times Square outraged and sickened me. We have absolutely no tolerance for this despicable behavior,” said District Attorney Bragg in a press release.

This crackdown on assault against law enforcement officers is not new in North Carolina. On December 1, 2023 “The Protect Those Who Serve and Protect Act,” HB 34 went into effect. This law made it a class I felony to point a laser device at a law enforcement officer while performing their duties, according to the bill.