Georgia just made it a hate crime to harass police officers and other emergency responders – let’s make it national

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ATLANTA, GA – Georgia is leading the way in protecting emergency responders in America.

Recently, House Republicans wanted to enact a law which would ensure that law enforcement was protected, something of which is rarely seen in today’s society. 

In legislation bill 426, later moved to another bill, House bill 838, it added police officers as a protected class, similar to current hate crime laws. 

The bill makes it a crime to attempt to harass or intimidate any first responder, including police officers.  The bill passed as the same time the hate bill crime passed.

In the language of the law, anyone who harasses or intimidates any law enforcement officer while he/she is performing their lawful duty can be arrested. 

Proponents of the bill say that will deter the average person, who do not know why law enforcement is involved, to step aside.  Those who are against the law point out that if people had stood up in recent event, George Floyd would still be alive.  

Byron Police Chief Wesley Cannon does not see where the bill would hurt law enforcement.  In the City of Byron, he has witnessed times when people have attempted to force his officers into a situation which would not look good on local news coverage.

Cannon said:

“Every officer knows and even me over my 28-year career that sometimes you have to put up with a little bit of stuff.  Sometimes you have to turn the other cheek and ignore. 

A lot of times if you ignore problems and you don’t give people what they want they may try to intimidate or bait you into doing or saying something.  Usually, if you ignore, they will go away.” 

Clifford McDonald feels differently.  He apparently believes in protecting criminals over police, while trying to pass it off as “protecting the innocent”.

He says:

“I think anyone who is witnessing a cop do his or her job and maybe sees something they don’t agree with should have the right to speak out about it.  Especially at the scene of a crime. 

When you look at the George Floyd incident there were so many saying just let the man up, you already have him contained.  Now you have added in the state of Georgia if a cop determines that you are now intimidating them while they are doing that. 

You can now be arrested and charged, that doesn’t make any sense.” 

On the face, McDonald’s argument makes sense, if someone sees something they should know would unjustifiably lead to the death of a person, citizens should step up.  What he fails to consider is that police officers are trained in defensive tactics and control measures.

Most officers know, or should know, what level of force they are applying and if that force will or could lead to death of the person they are attempting to apprehend.  

In that circumstance, the officer involved most likely fell to an approved training that he had received at some point throughout his career.  This in no means excuses that the officer should have released the restraint, but rather he was doing as he was trained to do and did not release when he should have.

However, the argument that it be lawful for any citizen to intervene when a police officer is making an arrest and the subject is resisting is troublesome. 

Issues arise when an average person witnesses a use of force for many reasons, they are not privy to the reasons why the officer is doing what he/she is doing, they have no knowledge of the crime the person being arrested is alleged to have committed, and they are unlawfully impeding an officers attempt at taking a person into custody.

Joe Blow basement citizen of Portland may not know or understand why an officer is arresting someone, or what led up to the officers response to resistance, will jump in and attempt to thwart a lawful arrest. 

Consider this, if an officer is attempting to arrest a person for raping a child, would the person walking by have knowledge of that, the answer is no.

The actions of the concerned citizen stepping in could very well end in the citizen, the officer, and the subject being unnecessarily injured.  The officer, for the most part, knows what he or she is doing, the average person walking by has no clue. 

To enact a law which requires, allows, or incentivizes citizens to intervene when an officer makes an arrest will have dire outcomes.  

The officer will not know if the citizen has good will or is simply attempting to help the suspect escape.  It would appear that the intent of this law is to ensure that law enforcement officers are able to do the jobs they are sworn to do without fear. 

Opponents seemingly want to ensure that the police cannot do their jobs effectively.  

We’ve got some more good news for law enforcement protections out of Oklahoma.

With all the talks (and also action) of defunding police, and the national discourse where the profession is constantly getting slandered, a state representative and a senator are trying to create legislation that will benefit officers in the state of Oklahoma.

Republicans State Rep. Kyle Hilbert and state Senator James Leewright announced on July 21st plans to introduce legislation that will increase the pay, better retirement plans, and create more supportive compensation for families of fallen officer within the Oklahoma State Police.

The effort has been coined as the “Back the Blue” legislation.

Rep. Hilbert spoke of the initiative and the rationale for getting to work on drafting it:

“We have an aging workforce in law enforcement and as these individuals retire, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to recruit police officers for the last decade.”

If passed, the legislation wouldn’t go into effect until fall of 2021, but Rep. Hilbert noted that there’s more legislation on the way that is aimed to support police as opposed to demeaning the profession:

“I hope we show young men and women in Oklahoma that if you put [on a] blue uniform, we are going to support you.”

The state rep. expects there to be some against the bill, considering the negative portrayal that law enforcement as a whole has been treated to since late-May. The message that Rep. Hilbert wants to send loud and clear is that the duo supports the work law enforcement does:

“Through and through for the most part we support law enforcement in Oklahoma.”

At this time, it isn’t clear as to where this extra funding would come from, but Rep. Hilbert explained that they need to “get the ball rolling,” on this effort. When reflecting on hos many states are actively shaming police within their cities, Rep. Hilbert had a message for those officers:

“If you’re a police officer in another state that’s not supporting you, come to Oklahoma, because we will.”

Considering the lack of support from elected officials lately with regard to police, this is certainly a breath of fresh air and a step in the right direction.

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While these two are working to defend police in the state of Oklahoma, a city councilwoman is facing public scrutiny for comparing police officers who have killed black people to Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. 

Councilwoman JoBeth Hamon posted on social media:

“25 years ago at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, mass murderer Timothy McVeigh took the lives of 168 innocent people.  That was senseless violence.  That was terrorism.  The continued violent murder of Black lives by police is terrorism.  A burned car is property damage.”  

Of course, this statement, comparing situations in which black people have been killed by police (most of which were ruled justified in the courts) to McVeigh who used bombs to blow up a building and murder 168 people did not sit well with local police. 

Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police President, John George, said:

“To compare us to Timothy McVeigh…most of us, this department, lived through that.  She crossed a line there.” 

The FOP instructed its followers to email Hamon their complaints. 

KOCO 5 reached out to Hamon and asked bout what she thought about the negative response to her comments. 

Hamon stated:

“The Fraternal Order of Police has typically operated by buying the loyalty of politicians or bullying people. And while it’s difficult to be the target of their bullying, their lashing out is an extension of the same culture in our policing institutions that perpetuate the high rates of police brutality against and harassment of Black and Brown residents as well as of residents who experience homelessness, or any other lives that have been disproportionately impacted by our systems of criminalization, over-policing, and mass incarceration.

“I have built relationships with those in our community that have not had the historical power to determine law enforcement policies and practices – and are often those that fall into our legal and carceral system rather than get healthcare, economic opportunity, and access to housing.

“Black lives matter more than the status quo and being a visible leader amplifying the words of Black Lives Matter-Oklahoma City Chapter like I did when I shared their post means that those, like the FOP, who have benefited from power will continue to try to silence me.

“But my voice carries the concerns of my constituents – concerns that have been raised long before I was ever in office and that cannot be shoved to the side or silenced by bullying and intimidation.”

George said her claim of cops beings universally racist and out to kill black people is “a false narrative because we don’t have this epidemic of police officers murdering innocent black men in this country.” 

George would like Hamon to sit down with officers in an open dialogue with all facts presented instead of just her posting items on social media he says are untrue.  Despite his request, it does not appear Hamon has any intention of meeting with officers. 

George’s argument seems to have merit. The Washington Post maintains a database that keeps track of all officer involved shootings for the past few years. 

In that database, it shows that police officers kill on average far more white people as opposed to any other race.  Professor Roland Fryer, also tends to agree.

As Law Enforcement Today previously reported, Professor Fryer was quoted as saying:

“There is no racial bias when officers fire on suspects, (according to a new study by Prof. Roland Fryer), black suspects are actually less likely to be shot than other suspects.”

Here at Law Enforcement Today, we have published numerous articles that have shown the facts, figures and statistics that support Fryer’s conclusions. Conclusions based on several thousand hours of collecting and researching available data for more than 1,000 police involved shootings. 

His research found:

“In officer-involved shootings in these cities, officers were more likely to fire their weapons without having first been attacked when the suspects were white. Black and white civilians involved in police shootings were equally likely to have been carrying a weapon. Both of these results undercut the idea that the police wield lethal force with racial bias.”

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