An Alabama law meant to prevent dangerous offenders from getting back on the streets went into effect on July 1. The Sgt. Nick Risner Act was signed into law during the legislative session. It is meant to honor Risner, a member of the Sheffield Police Department, who was killed in the line of duty in October of 2021. The suspect was convicted of manslaughter previously.
"Our hearts are aching, and equally in the same breath, we are angry. We are angry because we feel like these offenses, these tragic losses, they were all preventable," said Major Clay Hammac, Chairman and Trustee of the Alabama Fraternal Order of Police's Legislative Committee.
The law passed prevents someone convicted of killing someone with a deadly weapon from being released on good behavior, under the state's "Good Time" law.
"You can not empty our prisons and call it criminal justice reform. The tragic reality of any civil society is there will always be a need for law enforcement and with that, there will always be a need for prisons," said Hammac. "If someone commits a crime of violence against society, the alternative to that is prison. We have to stop emptying our prisons in the name of criminal justice reform. All we are doing is kicking that can down the road and perpetuating a vicious cycle of violence in our community and the Alabama Fraternal Order of Police will continue to boldly stand up and say no more."
In Bibb County, a deputy is now dead. According to records, the man police say is the killer has a criminal background spanning a decade. The question many are asking now is what else needs to be done to prevent another death of an officer.
"I think with the case now that resulted in the tragic death of our Bibb County Deputy, likewise it has put this back under the lens of review to see if the legislature has gone far enough," said Attorney General Steve last week.
On behalf of the Fraternal Order of Police, Hammac is laying down the gauntlet to lawmakers.
"Don't just simply put a tagline on social media saying you stand with blue. We want to see action. We want you to join with us and say no more violence in our communities," said Hammac.
Hammac said this isn't just about violence against law enforcement. He said it is also about the victims who he said too often find their offenders back out on the street.
"It's not exclusively violence against law enforcement. It's when law enforcement puts their lives on the line to seek justice for victims in our community and we see the perpetrators put behind bars, rightfully so. Then because in the name of criminal justice reform, we open the door and let them right back out to reoffend, that is what is defeating. That is an injustice to the victims in the community," said Hammac.
In total, there have been 633 line of duty deaths across the nation in 2021.