By Mary McGuire

ST. PAUL (WCCO) — At a time in Minnesota when all eyes are on law enforcement and their relationship with the communities they serve, lawmakers are speaking out.

Two new bills aimed at protecting police officers on the job were brought up for discussion at the State Capitol on Thursday, backed by lawmakers Rep. Brian Johnson (R-Cambridge) and Rep. Matt Grossell (R-Clearbrook).

One piece of legislation would increase the penalty for physically assaulting a police officer from a gross misdemeanor to a felony. It would also make it a felony to intentionally throw or transfer bodily fluid or feces onto an officer.

The other bill would bar a mayor, city council, county board or chief law enforcement officer from disarming a police officer in good standing, unless it is authorized under another section of law.

Minneapolis mayoral candidate Raymond Dehn had proposed disarming police during his campaign last year.

“As a former law enforcement officer, I know how they put their lives on the line every day in service to the public,” Grossell said. “Every day there are situations that go from non-threatening and escalate to life-threatening. For the safety of the officer and the public, the idea of local politicians disarming police is dangerous. This bill is about keeping our police officers and the public they serve safe.”

Both bills passed out of the House Public Safety Committee Thursday morning. They next go before the Ways and Means Committee and the Government Operations and Election Policy Committee.

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