Cop pushes for protection law
By Ken Kosky
Monday, April 14, 2008
When a driver suspected of being drunk tried to take
away Porter County police Officer Jeremy Chavez's
handgun one night two years ago, the officer's
supervisor, Sgt. Ed Clapp, said he was surprised to find
that Indiana didn't have a law on the books against
disarming a cop. Clapp decided to change that.
His efforts led to the Legislature's passage of a law
making it a Class C felony -- punishable by up to eight
years in prison -- to take or try to take an officer's
gun. The offense becomes a more serious felony if the
officer is injured or killed. Clapp and Chavez are
planning to watch Gov. Mitch Daniels sign it into law
April 21 in Indianapolis. Clapp said the law,
which goes into effect July 1, is even better than what
he originally had conceived. While Clapp was concerned
about a gun being taken away, the law covers other
weapons such as Tasers and batons. Besides protecting
police officers, the law also covers prison and jail
officers, court officers and probation officers.
Clapp said he researched a similar law in Illinois, then
worked with state Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso.
Soliday hopes publicity about the new law will deter
people from trying to take a gun from an officer. The
man who tried to disarm Chavez tried the same thing with
a conservation officer about a decade earlier and
apparently knew there weren't serious consequences,
Clapp said. Clapp and Soliday said people who try
to disarm an officer are risking their own lives and
pose a serious threat to officers and bystanders.
In Chavez's case, he was able to hold onto his weapon
with the help of a backup officer, Rollie Sanders. The
suspect could only be charged with misdemeanor counts of
resisting and battery. Soliday said he's pleased
the law calls for serious consequences, but he's most
proud of its potential as a deterrent. Soliday said when
he served as a United Airlines vice president, he said
publicity about the consequences of assaulting a flight
attendant caused the number of attacks to decrease.
Clapp said the Porter County Fraternal Order of Police
will recognize Soliday's efforts in getting the law
passed by making him an honorary lodge member.
"I'm really satisfied. I was expecting it would be
several years to get this (law) done," Clapp said.
"It's common sense legislation. ... I'm happy to have
been a part of it."