The plea for more support for law enforcement has created a wave of 32 bills across 14 states that seek to have violent attacks on police classified as hate crimes. According to data from a recent report in the Huffington Post, “these laws could make it harder to hold cops accountable” for their actions.
A police chief in the report stated that anyone who resists arrest or physically assaults a police officer could be charged with a hate crime under the law. However, for many civilians, this could be extremely harmful as officers could potentially use charges of resisting arrest to justify excessive force and cover up abusive behavior.
Of the 32 bills introduced, most of the bills haven’t been successful. However, under a new political administration, there’s potential for the 22 bills currently sitting in a committee for review to be passed.
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“There have always been individuals in the U.S. with an inclination to perpetrate unprovoked attacks against police officers merely because they’re police officers, out of hatred,” said Jim Pasco of the Fraternal Order of the Police.
However, despite recent high-profile shootings of police, FBI data shows that on-duty officers are safer today than they were in the 1980s. In fact, 2015 was declared as one of the safest years on record for police.
Iowa Republican State Rep. Ken Rizer, who is responsible for introducing the piece of legislation in his state, claims that he’s not “trying to pick a fight with civil rights advocates.”
“Morale is down, and they feel government doesn't have their backs. This would be a way to show that we as a society stand with law enforcement,” Rizer continued.
But not everyone agrees with this legislation including Michael Lieberman, who serves as the Director of the Anti-Defamation League, which played a big role in the first hate crime laws back in the 1980s.
“It confuses the purpose of hate crimes,” Lieberman told TIME.
“It’s not that we don’t want them protected … but this is not the best way to accomplish that goal,” Lieberman continued.
The Blue Lives Matter campaign, with a shifted focus on keeping police safety. came about in response to the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement, which demands the validity of Black life in America.
On their website, the campaign is described as one that “seeks to honor and recognize the actions of law enforcement, strengthen public support and provide much-needed resources to law enforcement officers and their families.”
The Black Lives Matter movement was sparked by fatal police shootings of unarmed Black men across the nation including Eric Garner, Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin.