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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah House on Monday advanced bill that would include the targeting of police officers with a list of acts of mass destruction that qualify a homicide as aggravated murder.
HB433, sponsored by Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, cleared the House on a 54-15 vote. It now goes to the Senate.
The bill also adds language to Utah code that defines the targeting of a law enforcement officer as "unlawful use of force and violence" against the officer, "causing serious bodily injury or death in furtherance of political or social objectives in order to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or to influence or affect the conduct of a government or a unit of government."
"You saw what happened in Dallas, where police officers were killed just because they were wearing blue and a badge," Ray told lawmakers, reminding them of the sniper attack that killed five officers last year.
Ray has said he wants to make it clear that malicious motives against police officers will be seriously punished under Utah law.
Critics of the bill, including representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union, have said the bill is unnecessary because Utah law already seeks penalty enhancements against people who kill law enforcement officers.
But proponents of the bill, including law enforcement representatives, have said ambush attacks on police in the U.S. have a chilling effect on officers.
— Katie McKellar