Law enforcement officers in Wisconsin would become a protected class, under legislation introduced Monday by Republican state Representative David Steffen (R-Howard).
The so-called “Blue Lives Matter” bill increases penalties for those who commit crimes against a law enforcement officer specifically because of the officer’s profession. It’s patterned after a Louisiana law and would add cops to the state’s hate crime classification.
Steffen said the legislation is about sending an important message in the wake of last week’s attack in Dallas that killed five police officers and wounded several others. “We will always be behind, and supporting, and protecting our law enforcement officers at all times,” he said.
The gunman in the Dallas attack reportedly told police that he was inspired to act by anger over recent incidents in which police officers fatally shot black men. Those deaths have sparked anger about police brutality as well, and prompted protests across the nation and in Wisconsin.
Steffen said he’s not choosing one cause over another with this bill though. Given the violence towards police, he said “I felt it was important, especially under light of the circumstances of this particular situation…that we take this step.”
The earliest the proposal would likely be considered at the Capitol is next January – after the next legislative session begins.
Jeff Flynt at WTAQ contributed to this report.