A bill that would increase the likelihood of the death penalty for people convicted of killing a law enforcement officer in the line of duty passed the House with a vote of 73-21.
House Bill 1306, by State Rep. Casey Murdock, creates the Blue Lives Matter in Oklahoma Act of 2017, which provides that any person convicted of, or who pleads guilty or nolo contendere to murder in the first degree of a law enforcement officer, correctional officer or corrections employee while in the performance of their duties shall be punished by death or life in prison without parole.
“Every time our law enforcement officers put on their uniform they are putting on a target,” said Murdock, R-Felt. “The least we can do as a legislative body is send a message to law enforcement that we value their lives, that if something happens to them while they are performing their duties we will punish their killers to the fullest extent of the law.”
Murdock said he was inspired to write this legislation after the tragic events that occurred in Dallas and around the country, where snipers were shooting at law enforcement. He also told a personal story of a friend whose son-in-law was shot and attacked in the line of duty.
Murdock worked with several other representatives to make sure the bill was constitutional yet still firm when it comes to dealing with criminals. The bill makes it harder to just get a life in prison sentence. Punishment would be either death or life without parole. The bill also requires that an overwhelming amount of mitigating evidence be shown for those convicted to just be given a life sentence.
“I applaud my colleagues that stood up today for the men and women that risk their lives protecting Oklahoma families,” said state Rep. Scott Biggs, R-Chickasha. “In an era where respect for law enforcement is at an all-time low, this body has sent a message to the law enforcement community that we will use the full extent of the law to protect them.”
Majority Leader state Rep. Mike Sanders said he was happy as well with the bill’s passage.
“If this law deters one crime against a law enforcement agent, then this bill is worth it,” said Sanders, R-Kingfisher. “I’m proud to support those who are willing to lay down their lives for the safety of me, my family and all Oklahoma residents.”