Ohio bill would increase penalties for violent crimes against first responders

UNIONTOWN, OH (WOIO) - A bill making its way through the Ohio legislature would increase the penalties for violent offenders when the victim is a first responder, such as police, firefighters or emergency medical techs.

"That's when I knew to call my family because I didn't think I was going to survive that night. I at least had to tell them goodbye. God had other plans for me," explained Sergeant David White.

Uniontown Police Sergeant David White is lucky to be alive.

In July, he responded to a domestic violence call, and was shot several times.

"I hoped it wouldn't happen, but I knew it was always a possibility," White said.

That possibility is what has him backing a bill in the state legislature that would protect police and other first responders.

"If they hate us, and military, and paramedics, why shouldn't it be a hate crime? They are intentionally killing us, or trying to kill us just because they hate us for no other reason than because we wear the uniform," White said.

State Representative Dave Greenspan, from Westlake, introduced the bill. A hearing was held at the state capitol Tuesday morning.

"These are people who protect our liberties. These are people who see us in our worst and our greatest times of need. This is a much needed to bill to show them the state of Ohio appreciates their service and wants to protect them," Greenspan explained.

The bill would not only increases the penalty for those who attack first responders, but includes retired first responders as well.

"Even when we retire, I'm fixing to retire at the end of June. There are people I've sent to prison. They are going to get out. Do they sit there and dwell on who sent them there?" White said.

The bill could be up for a vote in the next month. It also provides protection to anyone who is in or training to be a public safety official or member of the military.

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