New York State Assemblyman Ronald Castorina just introduced a bill that will make assaults on police officers hate crimes. This means that the crime would come with a more severe punishment if the bill passes into law. Assaulting a police officer would increase a level on the state’s felony scale.
Similar “Blue Lives Matter” laws that include police officers in hate crimes have already been passed in five other states including Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida, Tennessee, and Louisiana. Ken Buck, a Republican representative from Colorado, also plans to introduce a bill to congress that would make assaulting police officers a hate crime on the federal level.
In light of the recent murders targeting police officers, lawmakers want to expand hate crimes to include them because they feel that the uniform is the reason they are being attacked. New York City Councilman Joe Borelli says that police officers “are facing the same targeted approach based on their membership in this group” as people who face prejudice for their sexuality, religion, or race. Castorina added that the law would help protect the public at demonstrations and ultimately is about protecting “police officers from assault.” He also claims the bill has nothing “to do with Black Lives Matter.”
As a rebuttal, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union Donna Lieberman called the bill “political pandering.” She agrees that protecting police officers is important, but notes that the only way to make New York truly safe is “by holding officers accountable when they abuse civilians too.”