COLUMBUS—State Representative Wes Retherford (R-Hamilton) today announced that the Ohio House of Representatives has passed legislation that would increase penalties against an offender who feloniously assaults or murders a first responder or member of the military with targeted intent.

House Bill 38, sponsored by Representative Dave Greenspan (R-Westlake), expands the offense of aggravated murder to include purposely causing the death of a first responder or military member when the offender had specific intent to commit the crime against one of these individuals. Under the legislation, a first responder is defined as a firefighter or emergency medical service provider. Additionally, the definition of a military member includes a member of the United States Armed Forces, reserves, the Ohio National Guard, or a participant in ROTC.

The bill also 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, requiring a mandatory prison term of three to eleven years if the victim suffered serious physical harm.

“Veterans, military personnel, and first responders are valuable to our communities. In recent years, we have seen the specific targeting of these individuals, especially police officers,” said Rep. Retherford. “These violent and planned attacks cannot continue. House Bill 38 is a step in the right direction in protecting those who have sworn to protect us.”

Also known as the “Public Safety and Military Protection Act,” House Bill 38 comes in response to a recent upsurge in specifically directed attacks on police officers and other officials, including the murders of a Danville police officer and a Kirkersville Police Chief in Ohio. Passed during National Police Week, the bill retains current law with regard to enhanced protections related to law enforcement and peace officers, but expands those definitions to include those who previously served in such a capacity.

House Bill 38, a part of the Buckeye Pathway policy platform, now awaits further consideration in the Ohio Senate.

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