State lawmaker works to increase penalty for crimes against police

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.—A state senator is renewing an effort to increase the penalty for some crimes against officers, whether they are on or off duty.

State Sen. Jim Merritt said he filed a bill Thursday, which would in part increase the penalty for battery or criminal recklessness if it’s committed against law enforcement or a relative because of their status as a public safety official.

“I think people realize that police officers are sitting ducks and we need to protect them in their homes,” Merritt said.

The bill is welcome news for some officers.

“It feels like somebody’s got our back and it feels like somebody’s looking out for us,” Whitestown Police Officer John Jurkash said.

In February, police say someone targeted police officers from four different departments in Whitestown. Police vehicles and a garage door were vandalized.

“It angers us, with the current climate nowadays, it definitely angers us because we have not too many people backing us as is,” Jurkash said.

He said since then with community policing and a high presence of officers, it hasn't really been an issue. But he said some officers started taking more security measures and no longer park their patrol cars in their driveways.

“This is so very important. There are countless examples around the country and IMPD where homes have been shot up,” Merritt said.

A similar bill failed last legislative session, but Merritt said he believes it has a better shot this time around with a shorter session.