First responders and military personnel are of the utmost importance to our society. Imagine a world where these crucial members did not exist. What would happen? In all likelihood, absolute chaos and legitimate fear would come to define our world. These individuals, as necessary as they are, put their own lives on the line day by day in order to protect their communities. Should we not, then, seek to ensure protections for those who keep us safe every day?

In recent years, instead of respecting the work and safety of military members and first responders, some have taken to specifically directing attacks on them. Police officers have especially been targeted. You may have heard of the tragic murders of a Danville police officer and a Kirkersville Police Chief right here in our state. This is sad and reprehensible, and there must be change. 

As legislators, we are committed to supporting policies that, in turn, support those who selflessly serve our families and communities. That is why the House recently passed House Bill 38, which increases penalties against an offender who feloniously assaults or murders a first responder or member of the military with targeted intent. According to the bill, a first responder is defined as a firefighter or emergency medical service provider, and a military member is defined as a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, reserves, the Ohio National Guard, a participant in ROTC, or a veteran.

The bill, also known as the “Public Safety and Military Protection Act,” increases the penalty for a targeted felonious assault against a first responder or military member from a second degree felony to a first degree felony. It establishes a mandatory prison term of three to eleven years in cases where the victim suffered serious physical harm. In addition to retaining current law regarding enhanced protections for law enforcement and peace officers, the bill expands those definitions to include those who previously served in such positions.

House Bill 38 is a critical part of the Buckeye Pathway policy platform. Our first responders, military personnel, and police officers deserve to be supported as they engage in heroic work, protecting our lives and responding to threats as they arise. I was proud to vote on legislation that demonstrates our dedication to these individuals, and I look forward to the Ohio Senate’s passage of this bill in the near future. Ohio’s military members and first responders give their best day in and day out. It is high time that we show our deep appreciation through genuine and tangible support. 


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