In the wake of an assault on three officers last weekend, the San Jose Police Officers Association is expected to launch an ad campaign this week calling on Congress to pass a new federal law.
The Back the Blue Act of 2019 would make any assault on an officer a federal crime, with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years. If the assault results in death, the minimum sentence would be 30 years to life.
"This is federal legislation, again, that really aims to protect those who protect the public," said Sean Pritchard, vice president of the SJPOA.
The ad campaign comes just days after three San Jose police officers were assaulted early Saturday morning by a crowd of about 50 people with a "mob mentality." The officers were issuing tickets for public drinking when the crowd attacked.
More than 60 officers were called in to help, and multiple arrests were made.
"We’re seeing this across the nation," Pritchard said. "Simply doing a search, we’re seeing the increase against law enforcement with a complete lack of respect for officers for simply doing their job."
Critics say the Back the Blue Act could have the opposite effect of what's intended. A spokesperson for the advocacy group Silicon Valley De-dug calls the proposed law "tone deaf" to the current social-political climate.
Retired California Superior Court Judge Ladoris Cordell described the act as a major step backwards to criminal justice reform.
"Assaults on law enforcement officers are already crimes that are prosecuted in every state. … The BBA will harm efforts to build trust between communities and law enforcement. ... It is clear that the drafters of this bill are pandering to police unions and thumbing their noses at the Black Lives Matter movement. This is a federal bill that isn’t worth the paper it is written on."
The Back the Blue Act of 2019 is still at the beginning of the legislative process, but backers hope to get it to the full House for a vote in less than a year.