The Senate gave unanimous approval Wednesday of a measure to increase the penalty for assault against off-duty law enforcement officers. House Bill 1318, by Rep. Mike Sanders and Sen. Kyle Loveless, would make assault against an off-duty officer a felony when the crime is directly related to the officer’s official position.
“Law enforcement officers proposed this idea to me because there are cases in which bad guys pursue a member of law enforcement at their homes and in their personal lives,” said Sanders, R-Kingfisher. “My legislation would simply make it possible to charge the assailant with a felony if they are coming after members of law enforcement. We should make sure they’re just as safe out of uniform.”
Currently, anyone who commits assault or assault and battery against an on-duty officer is charged with a felony but the penalty drops to a misdemeanor when the same crime is committed against an off-duty officer. HB 1318 will make such a crime a felony regardless of whether the officer is on or off-duty.
“Our law enforcement officers risk their lives every day while on duty. They shouldn’t have to worry about the safety of their families or themselves when they’re off-duty. Unfortunately, though, there are people who stalk, threaten and assault officers when they’re off the clock simply out of revenge,” said Loveless, R-Oklahoma City. “This bill will fix a loophole that has allowed these criminals to only be charged with a misdemeanor rather than the felony they’d be charged with had the assault occurred while the officer was on duty. We must do all we can to protect our law enforcement officers.”
The measure now moves to the governor’s office for her final consideration.