Tuscaloosa Police Department

An Alabama House committee this week approved a bill that would raise the penalty for assaults against police and first responders.

The bill increases penalties for second-degree assault against a police officer, firefighter, emergency medical worker or utility worker. That crime is currently a Class-C felony, which carries a penalty of one to 10 years in prison. With the new legislation, it would become a Class-B felony, which carries a penalty of two to 20 years in prison.

Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson said he hopes the bill goes all the way through and becomes law.

“I think it’s a great idea,” he said. “And I think it gives law enforcement officers an added measure of protection when they’re out doing their job. Perhaps it will make the individuals we’re coming in contact with think twice before they decide to attack or assault an officer.”

The Class-B penalty would only apply if a person intentionally causes physical harm and tries to interfere with police or emergency workers doing their jobs.

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