Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gov. Beshear signs ‘Bryan Durman Act’

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Acting on the third anniversary of the death of its namesake, Gov. Steve Beshear today ceremonially signed the Bryan Durman Act, setting higher parole eligibility thresholds for crimes that result in the line-of-duty death of a peace officer or firefighter.

Named for a Lexington police officer killed by a hit-and-run driver while investigating a routine complaint, Senate Bill 15 ensures that offenders who kill an on-duty police officer or firefighter serve more of their sentence before becoming eligible for parole.

“Our law enforcement officers routinely place themselves in harm’s way in order to protect others, and while it’s rare, it’s an unfortunate reality that their bravery and commitment to duty occasionally cost them their lives,” Gov. Beshear said. “This law recognizes the great sacrifice that our men and women in uniform make, and serves as a deterrent to those individuals who may cause them harm.”

The law adds second-degree manslaughter and reckless homicide of a peace officer or firefighter acting in the line of duty to the violent offender statutes, and stipulates that the offender must serve at least 85 percent of his or her sentence if the officer or firefighter was clearly identifiable.

If the officer or firefighter was not clearly identifiable, the offender must now serve at least 50 percent of his or her sentence before being eligible for a parole.

Previously, offenders committing these crimes were eligible for parole after serving only 20 percent of their sentence.

“I am thrilled that we were able to pass Senate Bill 15 in a bipartisan way,” said Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, of Lexington, the bill’s sponsor. “I hope it will provide a small measure of comfort to the Durman family and first-responders who risk their lives on a daily basis just in doing their jobs. SB 15 should also be a warning to those careless individuals that we will do everything we can to protect the memory of fallen police and firefighters.”