3:06pm: Hotline with Dave Weekley

Justice signs first responder bills into law

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Flanked by uniformed law enforcement officers, Governor Jim Justice on Monday signed a pair of measures into law dealing with West Virginia’s first responder community.

The first he signed was Senate Bill 490, the “Patrol Officer Cassie Marie Johnson Memorial Act.” The bill created a new crime of causing the death of a first responder and requires a minimum of 15 years to life in prison as punishment for a conviction.

“When someone takes the life of one of our law enforcement officers, this bill makes sure they are punished for their actions,” said Justice in signing the legislation.

The measure was named for Charleston Patrol Officer Cassie Johnson who was shot and killed while investigating a parking complaint in December 2020. Her mother was one of the strongest advocates and stood by the Governor’s shoulder as he signed the bill. Officer Johnson was previously a humane officer and well known for her love of dogs.

Appropriately “Babydog” stood by and watched along with Ms. Johnson’s dog “Justice”, named after the Governor who purchased a new puppy for the grieving mother who lost her dog, her daughter and suffered a broken leg all within the same time frame.

During the same ceremony, Justice also signed Senate Bill 294, which clarified language in the Deputy Sheriff’s Retirement System annual monetary supplement.

“You’re all worth more money,” said the Governor as uniformed Deputies gathered around for the signing of the legislation. “Do we not owe everything to ya’ll?”

Justice closed the ceremony proudly proclaiming the two bills were now law and suggested increased respect for those who put their lives on the line each day to keep everyone safe.

“Everybody listening on the radio, for God’s sakes a living, honor the very people who are the first you call. Honor the very people who step up for you every single day,” he said.

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