officers have a difficult and dangerous job. During my 34-year police
career with the Baltimore Police and Maryland State Police Departments, I
lost my close friend, Corporal Ed Toatley, and numerous other friends
who wore the blue. I know the pain of losing a close comrade to street
violence as well as anyone and I remain committed to improving safety
for my fellow police officers.
That’s why I’m opposing a well-intentioned but divisive bill
called “Back the Blue Act,” which I believe will have the opposite
result of keeping officers on the street safe.
The Back the Blue Act makes any assault on an officer a federal crime with a mandatory minimum sentence. But
here’s the thing: assaulting a police officer is already a crime in
every state and already carries strict penalties set by local
legislatures. This bill won’t deter individuals from assaulting
police just by making a federal case out of these crimes. Instead, the
bill would make us less safe by pushing an “us vs. them” mentality and
worsening police-community relations.
What kept me safe was not any particular law but rather the trust,
respect, and relationships that my fellow officers and I were able to
build in the community. Mandatory sentences won’t deter the acts of
violence that I had to be on guard for as a police officer.
Back the Blue also takes away local authority by requiring the use of
new sentences created by politicians in Washington and diverts federal
resources from stopping the most complex and serious crimes like
international child trafficking, money laundering rings, and other cases
that are too complex, challenging, far-reaching, or sensitive for state
and local prosecutors. While assault on an officer is a serious
crime, it is a crime that can be easily handled by state and local
prosecutors working with existing state laws.
Add your name to my petition to let your members of Congress know
that that while Back the Blue might sound like a good bill, it’s going
to have unintended consequences that make the police officers less safe
and take away resources from federal prosecutors.
Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership