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Indiana lawmaker looks to bolster protections for public safety officers and their families

August 17, 2016

Indianapolis – A recent spike in targeted attacks against public safety officers, including one in his home state, has prompted an Indiana lawmaker to take action.

Sen. Jim Merritt (R-IN) announced Aug. 2 that he will be proposing legislation intended to strengthen protections for police and other public safety officers, as well as their families. Merritt will formally introduce his proposal in January when the General Assembly gathers for the start of the 2017 legislative session.

Existing Indiana laws include steep penalties for anyone who harms a public safety officer acting in an official capacity. Merritt’s proposal would increase penalties for individuals who target a public safety officer – or their family – regardless of whether the officer is on or off duty.

Merritt also called attention to the July 12 arrest of an Indianapolis man who reportedly fired 17 shots at an off-duty police officer’s house and squad car. That came just days after two high-profile incidents in Texas and Louisiana, in which a total of eight law enforcement officers were shot and killed.

“With the recent targeting and violence against police officers, it’s imperative for Indiana to update its laws to protect our public safety officers both on- and off-duty,” Merritt said in a press release. “These men and women risk their own safety in order to protect us.”

Attacks against public safety officers have intensified in 2016, with ambush killings up more than 366 percent from Jan. 1 to July 20 compared to the same time span in 2015, according to a report from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.