[JURIST] Arizona Governor Doug Doucey [official profile] on Monday signed into law a “Blue Lives Matter” [SB 13666, text] law imposing stricter penalties on assaulting, even off duty, police officers. The bill creates new maximum and minimums for offenses against police officers and supporters of the bill, such as Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, have said it is a measure “to protect those who protect us.” Opponents of the bill claim it is unnecessary as heightened sentencing schemes already exist for those who assault police officers and that it is an “inappropriate political statement that attempts to stop a problem of off-duty police officers being assaulted for their profession when there is little quantitative data that it exists.” The bill is set to go into effect in the summer.
This bill is yet another development amid a national conversation about police use of force, particularly against black citizens, and subsequent retaliation. In the last year, 32 ‘Blue Lives Matter’ bills have been introduced in 14 states [Huffington Post report]. Last year, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced [JURIST report] that he plans to propose a law providing for additional punishment for crimes against law enforcement officers. Also, last year, Texas Senator John Cornyn introduced legislation that would elevate the penalties for killing, conspire to kill, or attempting to kill officers and judges. Additionally, North Carolina’s Governor Pat McCory signed [JURIST report] into law a bill providing that police camera footage, including body camera footage, is not a matter of public record and proscribes the procedure for release of footage. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed a “Blue Lives Matter” bill that also raises the penalties [JURIST report] for crimes against police officers. Some have criticized the measures as being redundant since many laws already raise the penalties for crimes against police officers.