COLUMBUS—State Senator Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) today announced the unanimous passage of Senate Bill 16 by the Ohio Senate. Sponsored by Schaffer, the legislation will add enhanced protections and safeguards for emergency service responders such as professional and volunteer fire fighters, emergency medical technicians, police officers and their families.
“Over the past year, we have seen how our nation’s first responders have been the targets of intimidation, menacing and assault,” Schaffer said. “Around the country, responders have been followed home, their property has been targeted and their families intimidated. I am proud to sponsor this much needed legislation to protect our first responders and their families from these threats.”
Under the legislation, an assault of an emergency responder while on or off duty would warrant a possible 4th degree felony. This same penalty would be extended to protect their families while off duty.
Similar language is used in the bill for instances of menacing of responders or their family members. Those who put a first responder, or their family, in reasonable fear of physical harm or death through the use of a deadly weapon would be charged with a 1st degree misdemeanor.
Additionally, the bill would makes it a 1st degree misdemeanor for obstructing a public passageway, if done to prevent an emergency vehicle from responding to or exiting an emergency.
“As a legislative body, we need to ensure that the men and women who bravely serve our communities are protected from those who vilify, target and attack them for personal or political gain,” Schaffer said. “It is our duty to show our support and offer this protection for all of our extraordinary first responders.”
The legislation has garnered significant support from professional groups and associations such as:
• Fraternal Order of Police
• Ohio Fire Chiefs Association
• Northern Ohio Fire Fighters
• Troopers for a Safer Ohio
• Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association
• Police and Fire Retirees of Ohio
• Prosecuting Attorneys Association
• Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police
• Ohio Ambulance and Medical Transportation Association
• Ohio Municipal League
• Ohio Christian Alliance
Senate Bill 16 will now head to the Ohio House of Representatives for further consideration. For more information about Senate Bill 16, click here