The National Fraternal Order of Police has launched a campaign to change federal law to add attacks on police as a hate crime. In a letter to President Barack Obama and Congress, the powerful union cites the murders of two New York City police officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu. The demand would treat an attack based on status as the same as an attack based on race. Given the Administration’s expedited investigations of civil rights violations involving deaths caused by police officers in Missouri and New York, the change would create an interesting situation where both future suspects and officers would be arguably protections under federal hate crime laws.
Currently, the federal law states that it is a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.”
Jim Pasco, the executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police, insisted that “[r]ight now, it’s a hate crime if you attack someone solely because of the color of their skin, but it ought to be a hate crime if you attack someone solely because of the color of their uniform as well.”
Many of us have been alarmed by the intense anti-police rhetoric that has arisen in some protests, including chants for more dead police officers. Despite this sympathy, however, the addition to a status as a hate crime category raises some difficult questions about the expansion of this law, which has been viewed as troubling in many circumstances by civil libertarians.
There have been an alarming increase in the shooting of police officers in the last year. However, there are already ample criminal provisions addressing such crimes, including crimes specifically covering attacks on police offices or fire fighters. Adding a new category to the hate crimes statute is unlikely to offer any additional deference when you already have these laws as well as standard charges for murder etc. The question is whether we want to continue to expand this law to cover attacks allegedly made on the basis of status. There are also questions of what the requisite proof would be in such cases.
There is also an obvious concern that any assault on a police officer could be potentially classified as a hate crime. Citizens often voice contempt or anger at police. In some confrontations, we have seen even the slightest forms of assault charged under existing laws. Some of those cases could not be enhanced with a hate crime charge. Defense attorneys have long complained that prosecutors over-charge such cases in deference to their colleagues in police departments. There is often pressure to use every possible charge against someone who is accused of assaulting an officer. There is a danger that free speech rights could be implicated in such prosecutions as well as other protections.
While there will be powerful political pressures for Congress to yield to this demand, it is worth considering such questions before taking such step. First and foremost is the question of whether such a change is really needed in light of existing laws. There may be good arguments for the inclusion to be made but I hope that there is not a rush to take action due to our collective anger over these horrific attacks on police officers. This is a question that raises some novel questions about how such crimes are defined and proven.
What do you think?
70 thoughts on “Police Union Asks Congress To Add Attacks On Police To Growing List Of Hate Crimes”
In addition, I believe HappyPappies because I’ve come to know her and found that she is rather honest and straightforward in her anecdotes. I frequently disagree with her, but never disrespect her. What she has, unabashedly, related here takes guts. I’ve had related issues, not directly mine, mind you, but otherwise very close to me, that caused me to nearly kill a man. Only a momentary burst of common sense prevented it…and if I ever read or hear about that guy causing anyone else pain via crime, especially sexual, I will regret my decision to spare the meat-head. I regularly read reports and so far he’s not gone beyond his less violent crimes (he is a thief and nut case thug per se) …after he served time for those I managed to charge him with, with evidence for the police. I know he hates me, and I relish that. He lives 40 odd miles away from me,. but if I see him near me where I live I will know “it is on” once again. His best bet is to avoid being within 10 miles of me. Oh, my…have I revealed an irrational prejudice? Why yes, I have…tough.
@aridog – what a friend we have in Jesus – wait – We are supposed to put the whole armor on of God right? Isn’t that what the Civil Code is all about that was written into our justice system to take care of the thugs that have somehow infiltrated the system because they think it gives them “power” to wield a weapon and wear a badge? Look what I came across today –
This is my Prayer for Aridog
I am a soldier in the army of my God. The Lord Jesus Christ is my Commanding Officer. The Holy Scripture is my code of conduct. Faith, prayer and the Word are my weapons of warfare. I have been taught by the Holy Spirit, trained by experience, tried by adversity and tested by fire.
I am a volunteer in this army, and I am enlisted for eternity. I will not get out, sell out, be talked out or pushed out. I am faithful, reliable, capable and dependable. If my God needs me, I am there. I am a soldier. I am not a baby. I do not need to be pampered, petted, primed up, pumped up, picked up, or pepped up. I am a soldier. No one has to call me, remind me, write me, visit me, entice me or lure me. I am a soldier. I am not a wimp. I am in place, saluting my King, obeying His orders, praising His name and building His kingdom! No one has to send me flowers, gifts, food, cards or candy, or give me handouts. I do not need to be cuddled, cradled, cared for or catered to. I am committed. I cannot have my feelings hurt bad enough to turn me around. I cannot be discouraged enough to turn me aside. I cannot lose enough to cause me to quit.
When Jesus called me into this army, I had nothing. If I end up with nothing, I will still come out ahead. I will win. My God has and will continue to supply all of my need. I am more than a conqueror. I will always triumph. I can do all things through Christ. The devil cannot defeat me. People cannot disillusion me. Weather cannot weary me. Sickness cannot stop me. Battles cannot beat me. Money cannot buy me. Governments cannot silence me, and hell cannot handle me. I am a soldier. Even death cannot destroy me. For when my Commander calls me from His battlefield, He will promote me to captain and then allow me to rule with Him. I am a soldier in the army, and I’m marching claming victory. I will not give up. I will not turn around.
I am a soldier, marching heaven-bound. Here I Stand! Will you stand with me?
I have to say, here, that the police I’ve known (roughly 100+) would seriously harm any other officers who behaved as HappyPappies describes…and I believe her. I believe her because of the nuts I’ve met in the departments I’ve had connections with in real time. We’ve had a fewl brutal oons here. My roommate (at the time of our mutual divorces) once had to draw his pistol on another officer in the precinct building because of his aberrant hostile conduct. The guy had become physically aggressive, over a race issue, and was moving on him. There really are some good cops and generally they do not appreciate the idiots who violate common sense and civil discipline. That same idiot showed up at the barn I and my roommate kept our horses at one day (thew idiot owned a horse when he wasn’t nearly qualified to own at ground hog) …and when he got all riled up and placed his hand on his pistol, both of us reached for ours as well…he backed down. It could have gone ugly in a millisecond.
Punks usually define themselves by their actions…if they think they can get away with something, they will try…when faced with severe opposition, they usually shut up. It was in the early 1980’s here and a black hostile officer could not get fired short of killing Mother Teresa in front of the Pope. But he could be faced down. And he was…twice. He was eventually fired. But not soon enough…lord knows how many citizens he hassled unfairly. By 1990, that cr*p was over and police again were expected to be compliant with the law.
Paul C., I’ve been negative about hate crimes. Then I remember the jogger from Australia who was beaten by four black people. That was because he was white. It’s so hard to follow these stories. Are the men charged with life in prison or death penalty. At least we get to decide, not shooting himself. But killing somebody is a crime you pay for life. What changes if it’s a hate crime?
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