Porter County Sheriff's Department


What's Happening at The Porter County Sheriff's Department

 

Protection Law

Cop pushes for protection law

By Ken Kosky

Monday, April 14, 2008

 

Sergeant Clapp

Officer Chavez

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."

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