AUSTIN (Via KVUE)- Texas Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz are taking aim at criminals who attack cops.
Filed in response to the murder of five officers in Dallas, the "Back the Blue Act" would make attacking police a federal crime. Sen. Cornyn introduced the bill a day after speaking at a memorial service for the fallen officers.
"Targeting them is like targeting our constitutional order. It's the glue that holds our country together," Cornyn told KVUE in a conference call Wednesday, explaining jurisdiction would apply through the roughly $2 billion in federal funds annually designated to support local and state law enforcement organizations.
The bill would set the punishment range for killing an officer from a minimum of 30 years in prison to the death penalty -- and limit appeals. Additionally, it would allow officers to carry firearms in areas where they are otherwise prohibited and expand grant opportunities for community policing.
"This bill better protects our nation’s finest by providing stronger tools for the prosecution of those who would harm law enforcement," Sen. Cruz, a cosponsor of the bill, wrote in a joint statement with Cornyn and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). "We must stand in solidarity with our police officers, firefighters, first responders, and federal officers who selflessly run into harm’s way to protect our families and our communities."
The U.S. House of Representatives sent another Cornyn bill sent to President's desk Tuesday. The POLICE Act aims to expand community policing initiatives by authorizing COPS grantees to use grant funds for active shooter training.
Other prospective remedies are expected to be offered.
President Obama hosted numerous stakeholders Wednesday at the executive offices to address community policing and criminal justice. The president has long requested more funding for police body cameras, and rattled off a list of policy areas as part of his remarks at Tuesday's memorial service.
"As a society, we choose to under invest in decent schools," said Obama. "We allow poverty to fester so that entire neighborhoods offer no prospect for gainful employment. We refuse to fund drug treatment and mental health programs. We flood communities with so many guns that it is easier for a teenager to buy a Glock than get his hands on a computer or even a book."
The debate about controversial deaths in police custody continues. Police body cameras have recently drawn back the curtain over claims of police brutality, while providing definitive proof of their legitimacy. Lawmakers in North Carolina voted this week to hide those video recordings from the public.
Leaders from all corners agree the most effective solution is empathy -- a remedy that can't be legislated.
"There's obviously a larger conversation that needs to take place," Cornyn told media Wednesday. "But you certainly can't hold to account or punish these five Dallas police officers for something that happened somewhere else, at some other time, in some other part of the country. So this is designed to do something about what happened in Dallas, but what unfortunately is happening around the country, and that's the targeting of our law enforcement officers."