Tennessee Republican leaders last week advanced legislation aimed at further protecting first responders through the Criminal Justice Committee on Wednesday. House Bill 511 was amended to add new language under the current definition of terrorism that creates new protections for law enforcement, paramedics, firefighters, correctional officers, department of corrections employees, and other emergency medical rescue workers.
The bill raises the offense of murdering an on-duty first responder for their profession to an act of terrorism. If convicted, the perpetrator would receive life without parole or the death penalty. Once signed into law, House Bill 511 would be among the nation’s strongest legislation protecting first responders. House Bill 511 now heads to the Calendar and Rules Committee.
The First Responder Safety Act, House Bill 585, aims to protect first responders by enhancing penalties against those who harass, threaten, or intimidate first responders. Currently, those who take negative action against a first responder can be charged with either harassment or with terrorism. The bill would enhance the harassment charge since negative action against a first responder impacts the ability to recruit and retain first responders. House Bill 585 will be considered in the Criminal Justice Committee on March 17.