US Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC, introduced bipartisan legislation on Thursday that would make knowingly causing or attempting to cause bodily injury to a law enforcement officer a federal crime. 

Sens. Tom Cotton, R-AR, Lindsey Graham, R-SC, Joe Manchin, D-WV, John Hoeven, R-ND, Kevin Cramer, R-ND, Susan Collins, R-ME, Steve Daines, R-MT, John Cornyn, R-TX, Ted Cruz, R-TX, and Shelley Moore Capito, R-WV, joined Tillis in co-sponsoring The Protect and Serve Act.

On Monday, Deputy US Marshal Thomas Weeks Jr., CMPD Officer Joshua Eyer, and North Carolina Adult Corrections workers Sam Poloche and William “Aiden” Elliott were killed, and five other officers were injured while executing an arrest warrant for Terry Clark Hughes, Jr. Hughes, who had a long rap sheet. Hughes was also killed by police. Tillis recently delivered a speech on the Senate floor honoring the lives of the fallen 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,” Tillis said in a press release. “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 reintroduce this legislation that creates 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.” 

The National Fraternal Order of Police reports as of Dec. 31, there were 378 officers shot in the line of duty in 2023. Of those officers shot, 46 of them were killed by gunfire. There were 115 ambush-style attacks on law enforcement officers last year. These ambush-style attacks resulted in 138 officers being shot, 20 of whom were killed by gunfire.

The Protect and Serve Act would support law enforcement officers by:  

  • Making it a federal crime to knowingly cause, or attempt to cause, bodily injury to a law enforcement officer. Offenders are subject to imprisonment for up to 10 years.
  • An offender could receive a life sentence if a death results from the offense, or the offense includes kidnapping, attempted kidnapping, or attempted murder. 

The Protect and Serve Act has been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, Sergeant Benevolent Association, Major County Sheriffs of America, National Narcotic Officers’ Associations’ Coalition, and the National Association of Police Organization.

This law would apply to federal law enforcement officers and would also apply to state and local officers in circumstances where the federal government can establish jurisdiction over the case. Senator Tillis first introduced the Protect and Serve Act in 2020.