Bills aim to protect police officers

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Paul B. Johnson, The High Point Enterprise, N.C.
·2 min read
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Mar. 31—TRIAD — A pair of area legislators with career backgrounds in law enforcement recently introduced bills to increase the penalties for threatening police officers and to block online access to personal information about officers and court officials.

Rep. John Faircloth, R-Guilford, filed House Bill 418 to create a new set of penalties for making assault threats against law enforcement officers. Faircloth, a retired High Point police chief, said one of his goals with the legislation centers on deterring people from targeting officers.

"I don't expect to see a bunch of arrests for it because it's more of a preventive tool for the officer working in the field," he said. "But if the need arises, this would allow them to have the status to charge them."

House Bill 418 would make it a felony for someone to "knowingly and willfully" make any threat to inflict serious bodily injury or kill any person as retaliation against an officer because of the exercise of an officer's duties. The law would apply to any law enforcement officer, probation officer, parole officer or someone who is employed at a detention facility.

"Right now about all there is (for a charge) is disorderly conduct," Faircloth told The High Point Enterprise.

A bill filed by Rep. Allen McNeill, R-Randolph, would restrict online release of personal information, such as phone numbers and addresses, for law enforcement officers and prosecutors and judicial officers. The law also would cover a spouse of a law enforcement or court officer.

McNeill told The Enterprise that he filed House Bill 304 at the request of law enforcement and judicial officials.

"There are no laws or mandates that a city or county maintain a website," he said. "They do it to make information more readily available to the public and I applaud that effort. However, I believe we owe our public servants the opportunity to remove their personal information from those websites for their and their families safety."

Prior to becoming a legislator, McNeill retired as a colonel after a 32-year career with the Randolph County Sheriff's Office.

pjohnson@hpenews.com — 336-888-3528 — @HPEpaul