Military and Police

Mississippi Triples Consequences for Anti-Police Crimes

Several states are finally taking the necessary steps to protect our law enforcement officers and discourage violence against them…


While the ink was still drying on Mississippi House Bill 645, entitled “Back the Badge Act of 2017,” a 22-year-old rookie cop gave his life in the pursuit of justice. Tecumseh, Oklahoma police Officer Justin Terney was gunned down after he chased a man who fled from the car he stopped. This is yet another so-called routine traffic stop which evolved into a situation that was anything but routine. Investigators piecing together parts leading to Officer Terney’s murder theorized the shooter fled the automobile due to an active warrant.

Officer Terney requested the killer to exit the vehicle for a pat-down, in which case he likely would have found the firearm. The suspect knew this, so he opted to flee on foot. Terney gave chase. He deployed his Taser to no avail. Both men exchanged gunfire. Terney went down to the ground, mortally wounded. The already-small Tecumseh Police Department went from 12 officers to 11 in the time it took a monster to squeeze the trigger three times.

The cop-killer underwent surgery and remains in the ICU. Officer Terney’s death at the hands of an up-to-no-good fugitive reminds me of the proverbial innocent bystander getting mowed down by a drunk driver. Time and again, good folks take all the hits while irresponsible individuals wreak havoc and toss around trouble like it’s confetti. No one gets to celebrate, certainly not the law enforcers confronting evil layers of human nature.

In recent years with the unceasing spate of ambushed police and blatant murders of our nation’s police warriors, I’m fatigued from the statement “This must stop!” I concur with the sentiment, but what good is it if we merely repeat the mantra like a broken record spinning the same tired tune? Indeed, the words have meaning, but will only be formidable when backed by actions.

Heroically, a few states are responding with action to hold accountable the cowards who wield weapons and boldly use them against law enforcement officers and other public safety professionals.

Mississippi’s “Back the Badge Act of 2017”

Governor Phil Bryant, a deputy sheriff before swearing-in to the political arena, knows all too well the perils confronted by our nation’s law enforcement officers. He has the distinction of endorsing his state’s bill to get tough on crimes against cops and to mete out punishments to punctuate consequences and balance justice scales. The “Back the Badge Act of 2017” is intended to take an occupation into account when weighing the dynamics of a crime and its punitive assessments. Sentences and prison terms for crimes against peace officers are tripled beyond what is authorized by law. Not doubled, tripled! Ultimately, the goal is for would-be assailants to think twice before accosting a police officer, firefighter, or any occupation pertaining to justice and public safety professions.

Mississippi’s House Bill 645 passed with a majority vote which means some legislators declined to raise their hands in support. Naysayers have their right to opine. State Rep. Christopher Bell (D – Jackson) suggested this act and others like it direct attention away from police encounters with African-American males, citing his own experience which he categorized as racial profiling. Similarly, State Rep. John Hines (D – Greenville) submitted amendments which specified that any cop covering up crimes would suffer the same exact punitive measures delineated in the Back the Badge Act. His amendment failed to garner attention. According to the Jackson Free Press, every African-American lawmaker in the House voted against the Back the Badge Act.

It seems that the disgusting “implied bias” assertion spoken by the accusatory mouth of Hillary Clinton is still flopping like a beached flounder. Not denying wayward cops, but using the poor performance of a few to preserve the justified salvation of the vast majority is foolhardy and comes off as shortsighted and over-inflated.

Kentucky and Louisiana are the only other states with similar legislation, both under the legislation title “Blue Lives Matter.” Other states are in the process of enacting their own laws similar to those Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi put on the books. The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) has been an ardent voice in the matter, compelling Congress to enact laws focused on the anti-persecution of cops. Adding “Police Officials” to their existing Hate Crime statutes, states such as New York, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Alabama, California, Texas, New Mexico, Tennessee, Connecticut, Maryland, South Carolina, Illinois, Washington and Wisconsin seek to do what Louisiana’s “Blue Lives Matter” bill has accomplished.

With pre-existing laws covering crimes against police (including harsh/increased penalties), some may argue the necessity of these specific bills. As a nation, is it the medicine we need to protect our protectors? Given the prevalence to hunt, ambush, snipe and boldly claim the desire to kill law enforcers, it is hard to argue against additional ingredients to dissuade potential cop killers.

New teeth are always necessary for adequate bite…and these pro-police acts are measurably useful when it comes to those who foolishly decide not to abide by our Constitution, take matters into their own hands, and seek to extinguish blue lives without fear of dire consequences. Everyone trusts no harm will come to them, police officers included; however, cops knowingly enter the arena where mayhem ensues and rely on gut instinct, training, and laws to support their actions. We all know it is never foolproof, as demonstrated in Tecumseh, Oklahoma on Monday, and deterrence is an additive with hope.

If the justice system is to be respected, states must band together like cops, fight evil like cops, and exude a warrior spirit like cops…without bowing down to whims of misguided, spineless opposition. Strengthening crimes-against-justice laws is the antidote to thwart increasingly volatile social soldiers spitting in the faces of police officials and touting their Constitutional rights in menacing fashion. The only ones beefing-up the blatancy of cold-blooded killers murdering cops are the homicidal maniacs themselves. Laws are designed to quell these types for everyone’s protection, not only the protection of cops. Dutifully, cops are the ones marching to the front lines on our behalf. We have a responsibility to honor their gallant cadence by providing all the armor necessary to perform the ultimate duty.

We owe honorable deeds to Tecumseh police Officer Justin Terney, who ran after gun-toting evil, for his intent to prevent harm to citizens. Although the cost was his life, Officer Terney was successful in the mission. ‘Back the Badge’ honors the efforts of brave souls like Officer Terney. This young-faced policeman accepted the perils as keenly as he did his oath, and we owe it to him and others who don the badge to ensure principles of justice are emphatically embraced. Terney was a dedicated policeman and volunteer firefighter who ultimately gave all, exemplified by his final actions. Repeat episodes must be mitigated with every fiber imaginable.

Do you Back the Badge?

Stephen Owsinski is a Senior OpsLens Contributor and retired law enforcement officer whose career included assignments in the Uniformed Patrol Division and Field Training Officer (FTO) unit.  He is currently a researcher and writer.

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Stephen Owsinski

Stephen Owsinski is an OpsLens Content Manager and Contributor. Owsinski is a retired law enforcement officer whose career included assignments in the Uniformed Patrol Division and Field Training Officer (FTO) unit. He is currently a researcher and writer. Follow Stephen on Twitter @uniformblue.

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