The Senate Law and Justice Committee listened to testimony Wednesday on a bill that would toughen penalties for anyone who assaults a corrections officer or law-enforcement officer. Senate Bill 5058 is sponsored by Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood.
“Nearly two years ago, this state suffered the loss of one of its own when Correctional Officer Jayme Biendl was strangled to death by an inmate in the chapel of the Monroe Correctional Complex,” Carrell said. “While nothing can be done to take away that loss, what we can do is ensure that anyone assaulting our brave men and women in law enforcement is punished to the fullest extent of the law.”
SB 5058 would expand the definition of first-degree assault to include the assault with a deadly weapon of a corrections officer or law enforcement officer who was performing his or her official duties at the time.
During testimony the acting secretary of the state Department of Corrections, Bernie Warner, testified that 74 of his agency’s employees have been assaulted to various degrees, and suggested broadening the bill’s language. However, Carrell said further discussion of the idea made it clear that the public wants to help protect law enforcement – including corrections officers – specifically.
“One day in the hospital is easily ten-thousand dollars and the long-term costs when an employee is seriously injured can become staggering,” Carrell added. “If there is any fiscal impact as a result of this bill becoming law, I’m sure it would be mitigated by the savings to the state when thugs think twice and decide against assaulting a law enforcement or corrections officer.”