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Iowa attorney general wants tougher penalties for law enforcement assaults

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(The Center Square) – Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird is asking lawmakers to consider a bill enhancing penalties against anyone who assaults law enforcement officers or first responders.

The bill would make assaulting a first responder or law enforcement officer with a weapon a “C” felony, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The offense is currently a “D” felony, with a maximum penalty of up to five years. Assaulting law enforcement or first responders and intending to commit serious bodily injury will also move from a “D” felony to a “C” felony, according to Bird’s summary.

The attorney general also proposes that anyone who attacks a first responder or law enforcement officer face a “D” felony charge instead of an aggravated misdemeanor.

“Law enforcement doesn’t get the respect they deserve, certainly not from convicted criminals or those they place under arrest,” Bird said in the legislative summary filed this week. “Derogatory remarks, inappropriate gestures, yelling voices, and all types of assaults are directed their way on a daily basis. This bill would remind criminals who is in charge, and make the punishment for assaults on law enforcement and our first responders more effective.”

Spitting would be added to the list of bodily fluids that constitute an assault against jailers or other corrections staff. The proposed law would also make spitting at law enforcement or first responders an aggravated misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up to two years, according to Iowa law.

“It is unacceptable for individuals convicted of crimes or those being arrested for crimes to spit, hit, or commit any other assault to members of law enforcement or our first responders,” Bird said in the bill’s summary.

Lawmakers return to Des Moines on Jan. 8 to begin the 2024 legislative session.

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