Salem, OR – The world’s largest organization of sworn law enforcement officers is urging Oregon’s governor to call a special session of the State Legislature over a law change that narrows the instances in which cop killers will face potential death sentences.
Oregon Governor Katherine Brown signed off on Senate Bill 1013 earlier in September.
The new law “redefined and narrowed” the offense of aggravated murder “with respect to the application of the death penalty” by adding the requirement of premeditation, National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) President Patrick Yoes said in a letter to Brown on Sept. 4.
Aggravated murder is the only crime in the state of Oregon in which the death penalty can be applied, The Oregonian reported.
“Prior to the enactment of SB 1013 Aggravated Murder included the murder of any on-duty law enforcement officer – there was no requirement that the killing be premeditated,” Yoes wrote. “SB 1013 weakens this protection and…throws past and future cases of these crimes into legal uncertainty.”
“Requiring premeditation is too narrow for a person willing to kill a law enforcement officer,” the FOP president declared.
Yoes noted that law enforcement officers devote their lives to serving and protecting the community.
“They have very difficult and dangerous jobs and when one of them falls in the line of duty, it does not matter if their killer planned to murder them or simply did so as a result of a violent encounter,” he wrote. “In both situations, an individual makes a conscious decision to kill and in both situations, an officer is lost.”
Thirty-four of the 205 law enforcement officers who have been shot in the line of duty this year have died, Yotes said.
“Of these fatalities, we can say with certainty that only 9 of the killings were premeditated because those officers were ambushed,” he explained. “Our members view the erosion of these protections as a lack of support for them and for the dangerous work they perform. This impacts their morale and makes it all the more difficult for agencies to retain and recruit quality officers.”
On behalf of the 349,000-member FOP, Yoes urged Brown to call a special session of the State Legislature in order to “repeal SB 1013 or amend it by striking the premeditation requirement for those who murder or attempt to murder a law enforcement officer.”
The Oregon District Attorney’s Association has also publicly requested the governor call a special session to address problems with how the bill will affect the justice system, according to the letter.