- Associated Press - Monday, April 17, 2017

PHOENIX (AP) - The Latest on legislation adding tougher sentences for assaults on off-duty police officers (all times local):

3:30 p.m.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has signed legislation adding tougher sentences for assaults on off-duty law enforcement officers.

Ducey signed the legislation Monday after heated debates arose over it in the Legislature. The governor said in a written statement the legislation “sends the clear message that Arizona stands firmly with its men and women in uniform.”

The “Blue Lives Matter” law drew criticism from Democratic lawmakers who called it an affront to the “Black Lives Matter” movement that protests police killings of black people and racial profiling. Republican backers say even off-duty officers deserve higher protections.

Prosecutors would have to show the assault was motivated by the officer’s employment. Assaulting an on-duty officer or an off-duty officer acting in a law enforcement role already draws a harsher sentence

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9:35 p.m.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey faces a deadline to decide whether to sign or veto legislation adding tougher sentences for assaulting an off-duty law enforcement officer.

The bill Ducey must act upon Monday is called the “Blue Lives Matter” law. It has drawn criticism from Democratic lawmakers and civil rights groups who say it is an affront to the “Black Lives Matter” movement that protests police killings of black people and racial profiling.

Backers say even off-duty officers deserve higher protections.

Assaulting an on-duty officer or an off-duty officer acting in a law enforcement role already draws a harsher sentence in an aggravated assault case.

Republican Sen. Steve Smith’s Senate Bill 1366 adds that tougher sentence if the assault was motivated at least in part because the victim was an officer.

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