Utah lawmaker proposes death penalty for cop killers

The current law makes the crime eligible for the death penalty, but the new measure would make it the mandatory sentence


By PoliceOne Staff

SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Paul Ray is drafting legislation that makes the death penalty a mandatory sentence for any person convicted of targeting and killing a police officer.   

According to the Deseret News Utah, Ray said that harsher consequences need to be put in place to prevent ambushes on officers that have become all too common. 

The current law counts murder of a law enforcement officer as an aggravated crime, allowing prosecutors and jurors the choice to ask or sentence the suspect to the death penalty. 

The proposed bill eliminates the district attorney’s choice of pursuing capital punishment, and makes the death penalty a mandatory sentence, the publication reported.

After news broke of the ambush of two Des Moines officers sitting in their patrol cars, Ray told the publication he became “furious” and even more committed to make the bill a law. 

“These are guys who knowingly, every day, go to a job they know they may not return from,” Ray said. “And then you've got cowards that are going out and targeting these guys, trying to make sure they don't go home to their families.”

Rather than focusing on officers who are attacked or killed during process of investigating other crimes, the bill focuses on targeted attacks that single out officers, the publication reported. Defining exactly what constitutes targeting is still in progress.

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