Local law enforcement draft state legislation

Published 2:43 pm Thursday, February 16, 2017

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From Staff Reports

Public safety officials from various agencies across the State of Alabama gathered on the front steps of the Alabama State House on Feb. 15 in support of legislation that would increase the penalty on offenders convicted of violence against those serving in public safety.

Law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical personnel and rescue squads from across the state stood with members of the Alabama Legislature in support of the Public Safety Protection Act of 2017, also known as the Justin David Sollohub Law.

Officer Justin David Sollohub was killed in the line of duty in August 2011 in Anniston. His killer was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 2013.

Mr. and Mrs. Byron Morris of Jacksonville were present for the unveiling of the legislation that carries the name of their son.

After the murder of eight law enforcement officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge in 2016, Jemison’s Chief of Police Shane Fulmer and Clanton Police Department’s Captain Neil Fetner of the Alabama Chiefs of Police Association’s Legislative Committee began working with Representative Phillip Pettus and Senator Clyde Chambliss on a way to protect members of public safety. After several conversations and meetings, the Public Safety Protection Act was created.

The Public Safety Protection Act would increase the penalty for offenders who are convicted of assaulting members of public safety engaged in the performance of their official duties. Under current law, Assault in the 2nd Degree is classified as a Class C felony and Assault in the 1st Degree is classified as a Class B felony. If the Public Safety Protection Act is passed, Assault in the 2nd Degree involving a public safety official would be automatically sentenced as a Class B felony and Assault in the 1st Degree would be sentenced as a Class A felony.

Several House Members from across the State of Alabama have already pledged their support for AACOP’s efforts.

“We would like to thank everyone who has signed onto the bill and we continue to request members’ support,” Fulmer said.

“Upon final passage, we have asked Representative Pettus and Senator Chambliss to open up the bill for additional co-sponsors in both Houses. We would like to have every member of the House of Representatives and the Senate sign on to this very important issue,” Fetner said.

Also in attendance were President of the Alabama Chiefs Association Chief Tommie Reese of Demopolis, Chief Chris McClean of Chickasaw, Chief Bill Partridge of Oxford, Chief Brad Kendrick of Robertsdale, AACOP Executive Director Adrian Bramblett, Chief Ed Ralston of Arab, Chief Marlos Walker of Ozark and Chief Shane Denham of Anniston.