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Offenses Against Police Could Be Hate Crime

Assemblyman Edward Ra, R-Garden City, wants offenses against police officers to be treated as hate crimes by New York state.

Ra has introduced A.10933 in the state Assembly to amend the state Penal Law to include those who are of actual or perceived employment as a law enforcement officer as a protected class under the state’s hate crimes legislation. Ra’s legislation would also amend the Penal Law to add making graffiti as a specified offense.

“As hate crimes are certain “regular” crimes committed with a specific animus and prejudice against a class of individuals, and since law enforcement officers are routinely targeted by prejudicial treatment despite their duties as protectors of the health and safety of our citizenry, it is imperative that said officers are included as a class of persons protected by hate crime laws. Law enforcement officials encounter assaults on their persons solely because of their status as an officer, and this is the .kind of specifically motivated attack which hate crimes are designed to more effectively deter and punish,” Ra wrote in his legislative justification. “Graffiti and public threatening speech has been used to intimate classes of persons for decades now, and it is time that we recognize this and include graffiti in the list of possible offenses which can invoke a hate crime as well.”

In 2106, Louisiana became the first state to pass what it called a “blue lives matter” law that added police officers to the hate crime statute. Texas, Kentucky and other states have followed with their own laws.

In the state Senate, Sen. Daphne Jordan, R-Castleton-on-the-Hudson, has introduced S.8951 to establish the offenses of first-degree and second-degree menacing a police officer and adding both offenses to the list of offenses that are exempt from appearance tickets. First-degree menacing a police officer would be a class C felony while second-degree menacing a police officer would be a class D felony.

Several Republican senators have signed on as co-sponsors of Jordan’s legislation.

“The men and women who serve and protect our communities as police officers risk their lives every day. Therefore, it is extremely disheartening that there are members of communities harassing these officers with water and at times even assaulting them. Law enforcement in our state deserves better,” Jordan wrote in her legislative justification. “This bill will establish menacing a police officer or peace officer in the second degree as a class D felony, and will increase the punishment for menacing a police officer in the first degree to a class C felony. Sadly, the times have changed in such a way where legislation like this become necessary. Nonetheless, we must address issues like this to stop the rise in disrespect and cultural normalcy of assaulting the brave police officers who protect and serve us.”

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