DALLAS - A bill filed in the Texas House of Representatives on Monday would make it a hate crime to target police officers or any first responders.
"We're going to ask that it become an emergency legislative item for the governor so that as soon as we get to Austin in January, we pass it right away, make it law right away," said State Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas.
It is the first legislation of its kind to be filed and it comes 24 hours after a San Antonio detective was murdered inside his patrol car at police headquarters there.
Gov. Greg Abbott first called for legislation like this in July after five police officers were ambushed and killed in downtown Dallas.
The Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, the Texas Municipal Police Association, and the Dallas Police Association helped craft Villalba’s bill.
If passed, HB 429 would increase the penalty for attacking a cop, firefighter or paramedic.
“Texas will arm our prosecutors, D.A.’s and judges with every tool they need to punish to the fullest extent possible those who harm our first responders,” explained Villalba.
Nationwide, 58 police officers have died from gunfire this year, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page. Seven of them happened in Texas.
Law enforcement is taking immediate steps of its own to protect officers.
“In the wake of the tragic ambush that occurred in San Antonio along with the other three police shootings that happened across the nation yesterday, I have reminded our officers to take extreme caution as they perform their duties and to always be aware of their surroundings and cover each other,” wrote Dallas Police Department’s interim chief, David Pughes, to his team.
In Fort Worth, all calls for help – no matter the nature – will have two officers responding now.
"Any time you put on the uniform there's that sense of fear,” said Ofc. Jimmy Pollozani, Fort Worth Police.
Fort Worth is the latest department to actually change its police response after what happened in San Antonio on Sunday.
"We are planning to send a multitude of officers to San Antonio and convoying down there with squad cars to represent the Fort Worth Police Department and the Brotherhood for the Fallen,” said Pollozani.
That Brotherhood is a non-profit which has spent thousands of dollars this year sending Fort Worth officers to funerals for the fallen.
"We just started in July and we've been to over a dozen of them already," he said.
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