Joyce Joins Effort to Enhance Federal Penalties for Criminals Who Deliberately Target Law Enforcement Officers

Sep 23, 2020

WASHINGTON – Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) today announced that he has cosponsored H.R. 1325, the Protect and Serve Act of 2019. This bipartisan legislation would create new criminal penaltiesfor anyone who deliberately targets local, state or federal law enforcement officers with violence, imposing a prison term of up to 10 years, a fine, or both. The bill, which passed the House during the 115th Congress but did not receive a vote in the Senate, would also allow federal prosecutors to bring charges if the perpetrator used a channel or facility of interstate commerce or crossed state lines to commit the crime.

“The recent murder of Detective Skernivitz, a 53-year-old husband and father of two, is a somber reminder that our brave men and women in blue selflessly confront danger each and every day to protect us and our families,” said Joyce. “It’s only right for us to do everything in our power to help keep them safe. I’m proud to be a cosponsor of the Protect and Serve Act to ensure there are steep consequences for any criminal who knowingly and deliberately attacks a law enforcement officer.”

On September 3, 2020, Detective James Skernivitz was shot and killed, ambushed while sitting in his car working an undercover drug operation. Skernivitz was a decorated officer who served the public for 25 years with the Cleveland Police Department. According to court documents, the 17-year-old accused of killing the veteran Cleveland Police detective knew Skernivitz was an officer prior to the shooting and that he was on duty when the shooting occurred.

Skernivitz was recently sworn in as a Violent Crimes Task Force officer with Operation Legend, a systematic and coordinated law enforcement initiative across all federal law enforcement agencies working in conjunction with state and local law enforcement officials to fight the recent surge of violent crime. Operation Legend was named after 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro who was shot and killed on June 29, 2020 in Kansas City as he lay asleep in his bed at home. In August, Cleveland police announced that homicides are up 24% so far this year compared to the same period a year ago. They also announced that robberies are up 12% and felonious assaults involving weapons have jumped 40% compared to the first seven months of 2019. Since Operation Legend began operating in Cleveland, 72 individuals have been arrested.

To learn more about Operation Legend, click here.

To learn more about Detective Skernivitz, click here.

To learn more about the Protect and Serve Act, click here.


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