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Tenn. ‘Back the Blue Act’ harshens penalties for those who assault law enforcement officers

“They don’t sign up to be shot,” said Phil Keith, a former Knoxville Police Department chief. “They sign up to be public servants”

Tennessee State Capitol

The Tennessee state Capitol is seen Tuesday, April 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

George Walker IV/AP

By Joanna Putman
Police1

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A new Tennessee law, called the “Back the Blue Act,” has been enacted to harshen penalties for assaulting law enforcement officers, 10 News reported.

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Those convicted of assaulting officers, now a Class E felony, will face a $10,000 fine and a minimum sentence of 60 days in prison, according to the report.

The law differentiates assaults on law enforcement from attacks on other first responders, according to the report Assaulting other first responders is classified as a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a $5,000 fine and a minimum of 30 days in prison.

Some departments in Tennesse have reported an increase of assaults on police officers. For example, in 2022, the Knoxville Police Department stated 63 officers were listed as victims in assault reports, 10 News reported. So far in 2024, 30 officers have reported being assaulted.

“They don’t sign up to be shot,” said Phil Keith, a former Knoxville Police Department chief. “They sign up to be public servants. Here in East Tennessee, these most recent ones are just ambush attacks, and that’s where we’ve seen the greatest increase nationwide.”