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FOP wants stiffer penalties for those who target law enforcement

Published: Sep. 1, 2015 at 1:21 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 29, 2016 at 8:56 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The national president of the Fraternal Order of Police wants stiffer penalties for people convicted of targeting and killing police officers in the line of duty. Chuck Canterbury's request mentions the Texas sheriff's deputy gunned down Friday night, and the unsolved murder of Housing Authority Officer James Bennett Jr. in New Orleans.

Three months after being shot to death in his squad car while working a detail, police still have few leads into Bennett's murder.

"You never think it's going to be your friend that happens to," Bennett's friend, Bum Lee, said.

The HANO officer's loved ones, in shock at the time, still struggle to understand why he was taken.

"He was a big lovable guy. Everybody called him Godzilla," Lee remembered.

Bennett's murder is one of the examples cited by Canterbury. He wants federal hate crimes laws to include a clause for police officers; a move local FOP attorney Donovan Livaccari, supports.

"There are people that we know have been targeted specifically because of their job," Livaccari said.

The laws currently allow prosecutors to seek additional punishment in attacks motivated by the victim's race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin or disability. Amending the law to include law enforcement could open the door to stiffer penalties.

"Here in Louisiana, killing a police officer in the line of duty is first-degree murder. It's a capital crime that may not be the case in all parts of the country," Livaccari explained.

Just last week, a Harris County, Texas sheriff's deputy was shot to death at a gas station. The unprovoked kiiling rocking the tiny town where Deputy Darren Goforth was from.

"We've heard black lives matter, all lives matter. Well, cops' lives matter too," Sheriff Ron Hickman said.

The FOP wants Congress to change the federal law in an effort to save the lives of those who risk everything for us.

The Crimestoppers reward for information in James Bennett's murder stands at $10,000. Crimestoppers CEO Darlene Cusanza says the organization received a flurry of tips just after the murder in May, but those have tapered off, and information is desperately needed.

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