The courageous tradition of public safety is carried out by Arkansans who are dedicated to maintaining law and order. It takes a special person to put his or her life on the line every day to serve and protect a community. We are fortunate to have some of the very best law enforcement officers in the Natural State. Across the country we’ve seen attacks against law enforcement officers. Tragically, this has recently touched our state.

Pine Bluff Police Department Detective Kevin Collins was killed on Monday, Oct. 5, in the line of duty. It was a long-time goal of his to join the police force, and five years ago, his dream came true. Detective Collins enjoyed making a difference in his hometown while wearing the uniform. He worked to get illegal weapons off the streets, mentored youth in the community and helped carry a 95-year-old to safety after an apartment fire. This action earned him the department’s 2017 Officer of the Year. Sadly, his life was cut short when he was violently attacked while performing his job.

Detective Collins is not the only Arkansas law enforcement officer we’ve lost in the line of duty in 2020. Earlier this year, Hot Springs Police Officer First Class Brent Scrimshire also gave his life while fulfilling his calling to protect and serve.

According to the FBI’s Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted Program, 39 law enforcement officers have been killed in the U.S. in 2020. Their deaths are a terrible reminder of the risks law enforcement officers face each day when they put on their uniform and leave the comforts of their homes and loved ones. The loss of these officers not only affects their families, but also their communities and our entire state.

Arkansans hold our law enforcement officials in the highest regard, and they expect that our officers will receive the support of their elected officials. Washington can help by providing funding for obtaining the proper tools, training and technology to help police safeguard citizens and protect themselves. We also have a responsibility to officers to hold offenders of violent crimes directed toward them accountable for their actions.

That’s why I recently joined my Senate colleagues in introducing S. 4605, the Protect and Serve Act of 2020. This legislation would create federal penalties for individuals who knowingly cause, or attempt to cause, serious bodily injury to local, state or federal law enforcement officers. Under this bill, individuals who kill a law enforcement officer could receive a life sentence.

Officers in uniform risk their lives daily to protect their communities, responding to calls for help while not knowing what challenges they will face. There simply is no justification for the cowardly, cold-blooded attacks on officers that we have recently witnessed in our state and across the nation. Our legislation would carry severe consequences for anyone who attempts to target officers for violent attacks.

I’ve seen the commitment and dedication of those like Officers Collins and Scrimshire who wear the badge at every level – local, state and federal. Law enforcement officers play a vital role in protecting our neighborhoods and keeping us safe. They do this knowing they may be called to dangerous situations that put their own lives in jeopardy. We can show our support for their sacrifice and our commitment to their safety by passing the Protect and Serve Act.