The following editorial appeared in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, a CNHI newspaper. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Times-News.

The year 2020 has certainly been full of surprises and headlines that we never expected to see in our lifetime, but one of the biggest head scratchers of the year has been the effort by far-left Democrats across the country to defund, dismantle and demoralize the police.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize just how foolhardy and dangerous this movement is. Without fully funded, fully staffed and ably equipped law enforcement agencies, who will respond to emergency calls and protect citizens when a crime has occurred or is underway? Perhaps even more alarming is the growing number of cases across the country involving acts of violence against the brave men and women of law enforcement.

That’s why we applaud the introduction of the Protect and Serve Act by U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., a measure that would create federal penalties for individuals who deliberately target local, state or federal law enforcement officers with violence.

“At a time when our country is having a necessary debate about the accountability of law enforcement, officers are increasingly under assault in America,” Capito said. “Dangerous rhetoric about defunding the police has turned into targeted violence and chaos in the streets of American cities. I’m proud to join Senator Tillis in support of this bill because the men and women who put their lives on the line every day in our communities need to know we have their backs.”

The Protect and Serve Act would support law enforcement officers by:

• Making it a federal crime to knowingly cause, or attempt to cause, serious bodily injury to a law enforcement officer. Offenders are subject to imprisonment for up to 10 years.

• An offender could receive a life sentence if a death results from the offense, or the offense includes kidnapping, attempted kidnapping or attempted murder.

• The law would apply to federal law enforcement officers and would also apply to state and local officers in circumstances where the federal government can establish jurisdiction over the case.

The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. John Kennedy, R-La.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga.; Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.; Mike Rounds, R-S.D.; Rick Scott, R-Fla.; Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; Mike Braun, R-Ind.; Rob Portman, R-Ohio; David Perdue, R-Ga.; Richard Burr, R-N.C.; Roger Wicker, R-Miss.; James Inhofe, R-Okla.; and John Boozman, R-Ark.

Noticeably absent from the above list of supporting lawmakers are Democrats. In fact, not a single Democrat has signed on as a co-sponsor for this measure. So we must ask why haven’t U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., signed on as co-sponsors of the Protect and Serve Act?

Do Manchin, Warner and Kaine think it is perfectly fine for violent mobs to attack law enforcement officers? Do they support defunding, dismantling and demoralizing law enforcement agencies across the country, including right here in southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia?

We’ll be keeping a close eye on the Protect and Serve Act to see which lawmakers in Washington vote for and against it. A vote against this measure certainly is a vote against police officers across our nation.

It’s passage is a no-brainer, and all lawmakers — both Democrats and Republicans — should support it. We should all stand with and support the brave men and women of law enforcement who risk their own lives on a daily basis to ensure that our cities, towns and rural communities are safe and secure. 

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