Lawmakers in Madison have put together a bill making it a felony if an officer is hurt in the line of duty because of a suspects’ resistance or attempt to flee. At a Thursday news conference, State Representative Chris Danou (D-Trempealeau) and State Senator Jim Sullivan (D-Wauwatosa) say it would make suspects more likely to comply if they know there are potentially harsher penalties in attempting to get away.
In cases where police are injured because those attempting to flee, the accused are rarely punished accordingly according to Jim Palmer with the Wisconsin Professional Police Association. He says the prosecutor must prove intent of the accused which is difficult to do.
Several officers injured from resisting or fleeing suspects told their story, including Dane County Sheriff’s Deputy Dale Veto. While attempting to stop an erratic driver, Veto deployed road spikes. The suspect’s car swerved over, hitting Veto at 60 miles per hour. The impact caused on the deputy including breaking both of the deputy’s legs, as well as causing muscle and nerve damage. The driver, a teen in a stolen car, was never felony charged for the injuries because the intent was drawn into question. Veto says this bill would provide a “safety net” for cases such as his.
The Police Protection bill would also apply to third parties whose obstruction of a pursuit leads to injury of an officer.