Indiana lawmaker proposes legislation to protect off-duty officers

During a 30 minute news conference Hogsett and IMPD Chief Troy Riggs talked about the importance of community involvement in providing a safer community on June 16, 2016. (WISH photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — An Indiana state senator announced legislation aimed at better protecting public safety officers and their families on Tuesday. The focus is on offering protections to officers while they are off-duty.

State Senator Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) says he wanted to do something to protect the 16,000 public safety officers in the state of Indiana in the wake of targeted shootings of police in Dallas and Baton Rouge and the targeting of police officers in Indianapolis.

“We want to protect our finest, and this is what this piece of legislation will do,” said State Senator Jim Merritt, who will author and introduce the bill.

Merritt wants to expand the penalties “when a public safety officer or their family is harmed, on or off duty, just because they are known to be a police officer, firefighter or other public safety officer.”

“With the recent targeting and violence against police officers, it’s imperative for Indiana to update its laws to protect our public safety officers both on and off duty,” Merritt said. “These men and women risk their own safety in order to protect us. When others run away from danger, they run toward it, which is why protecting our finest is a priority of mine for the 2017 season.”

Last month, March Ratney, 27, was arrested after police say he shot at an IMPD officer’s home and marked squad car. IMPD says they believe he was targeted because he is an officer.

“It’s a new day in law enforcement in country and unfortunately we have the need for these enhancements to occur,” said Rick Snyder, president of the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police.

The bill isn’t written yet, but Senator Jim Merritt says it will expand enhanced penalties when first responders are targeted because of their job.

“When you see a police officer who takes a car home it is known as security throughout the neighborhood, now it might be a liability and so we want law that is going to protect our finest in their homes at night so their families can be safe,” Merritt said.

Merritt announced some of the specifics of his legislation at a press conference at the Statehouse at 11 a.m. in the Senate chamber on Tuesday. He was joined by current and retired law enforcement officers.

“It’s unfortunate that we’re at the point where we’re having to consider legislation,” said  Asst. Chief Randy Taylor of IMPD

Currently, IMPD is accepting applications for those wanting to be police officers. The deadline to apply is August 7. You can apply online or at the Human Resources Office on the 15th floor of the City County Building for a written test to be given August 19 and 20.

Senator Merritt says the bill will be ready when the general assembly convenes in January.

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