The Ohio Senate unanimously passed a bill introduced by Senator Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) that will enhance protection for individuals who serve in law enforcement or as a first responder.
If enacted, an assault of an emergency responder or their families could lead to a possible 4th degree felony. Further, an individual who places a first responder or their family in fear of physical harm can be charged with a 1st degree misdemeanor.
“Over the past year, we have seen how our nation’s first responders have been the targets of intimidation, menacing and assault,” Schaffer said in a statement. “Around the country, responders have been followed home, their property has been targeted and their families intimidated. I am proud to sponsor this much needed legislation to protect our first responders and their families from these threats”
Additionally, the bill will make it a 1st degree misdemeanor for obstructing a public passageway, if done to prevent an emergency vehicle from responding to or exiting an emergency
“As a legislative body, we need to ensure that the men and women who bravely serve our communities are protected from those who vilify, target and attack them for personal or political gain,” Schaffer added.
Over the past year, the country has witnessed a concerning trend of violence against law enforcement among calls to “defund the police.” Emergency responders have also witnessed their own troubles. Last year, protestors in Virginia blocked the road and prevented firefighters from accessing a burning building with a child inside.
The bill — endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, Ohio Fire Chiefs Association, and other other police and first responder organizations — will now head to the Ohio House of Representatives for their approval.
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