Lawmakers in one upstate New York county are tired of seeing the harassment of law enforcement officers across the country.  Now they are taking steps to ensure that those types of actions do not happen to the officers of their community.

Lawmakers in Monroe County, New York, passed a measure on Tuesday that would allow police officers to arrest anybody who “annoys, alarms or threatens the personal safety of an officer,” WLNY reported.

The measure that passed in a 17- 10 vote stated, that if convicted, the annoyer could face a fine of up to $5,000 and as long as a year in jail.

If passed into law, this would apply to police officers, peace officers as well as other first responders such as firefighters and EMT’s.

Republican legislator Karla Boyce, helped to draft the bill, and as she explained she believed that “passing the law was the right thing to do to protect law enforcement.”

Boyce told reporters:

“We know that our law enforcement does have discretion when they are going to charge somebody with a crime. This law will be no different than that. They will have the discretion to use this or not.”

Of course, as with most items that take measure to support or help our law enforcement community, this bill proposal was met with controversy.  Many have spoken out against the bill, calling it ‘unconstitutional’.

Iman Abid of the New York Civil Liberties Union. Abid is particularly concerned about how this will effect communities of color.

“Members of the community have every right to challenge police officers, particularly those that engage in unnecessary behavior,” she said in a statement. “At a time when more accountability of police departments is needed, this law takes us incredibly backward.”

Professor Delores Jones-Brown, of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice also commented on what she feels is the unconstitutional nature of the bill.

“The legislation, could create a situation where people are scared to exercise their First Amendment rights. An officer could be annoyed by a person who asks them their badge number or who records them with a cellphone while on the job. This statue definitely has the capacity to make people afraid to do that,” she explained.

Jones-Brown also went on to add that,

“A portion of the measure could survive a legal challenge — a section tied to conduct that threatens the personal safety of a police officer. Courts have found threats easier to define, but they are not completely beyond interpretation.

Under the legislation, a prosecutor would have to prove that it was a person’s intent to threaten an officer’s personal safety.”

Democratic legislator, Vince Felder, told reporters:

“What constitutes annoyance? I mean I get annoyed several times a day. Is that criminal? So, it’s really a dangerous road to go down when you start creating subjective criteria to arrest people.

There are enough laws, state laws, on the book to protect police officers from assault, from harassment and really you don’t need this law and I think it’s just pandering to somebody.”

Many main stream media outlets would have the general readers believe that this law looks to protect officers in cases where a citizen asks for their badge number or name during a situation. That’s business as usual for law enforcement. 

Also, they attempt to send people into a panic that if cops get annoyed by being videotaped at a scene, they can use this law against the general citizen.  Law enforcement officers live with the reality that, everything they do while they are working has the potential to be videotaped.  It’s the world they now police in. 

We won’t get into the fact of how unsafe it is for individuals to stand around with cell phones out during an active police situation, that’s another article! 

This law, should it be passed, aims to protect officers from harm. When the proposed legislation was introduced, incidents like those that took place in New York City where officers had water and other items thrown on them were cited.

Not all hope is lost that the bill will not be signed into law to protect the law enforcement officers and first responders of Monroe county. In a statement that was released earlier in the month, County Legislator Kara Halstead stated she is proud to be in full support of the bill adding that this legislation “looks after those who look out for us.” The statement continued with:

“This local law aims to crack down on behaviors of disrespect and incivility toward law enforcement and first responders in the hopes that these smaller incidents do not escalate.”

Lawmakers are expected to hold a public hearing on the bill in the coming months.

In the meantime, as of last week, attacking an animal is now going to be a federal felony… but attacking a police officer is still not.

Perspective.

It’s something we desperately lack these days in a country that’s arguably become more partisan than we’ve ever seen.  And so I’m going to provide a little bit of that perspective right now.

I’m a dog lover.  We’ve got two of them.  We’ve also got a cat that I tolerate because my kids love her. If anyone ever laid a finger on those pets, I’d break it off.

And so initially, I was encouraged to hear about the bipartisan legislation that was just passed making animal cruelty a federal felony.

Until it hit me.  We’ve got congressional leaders reaching across the aisle to make animal cruelty a federal crime… but not attacks on police officers.

Let’s start with the legislation that just passed.

Last Tuesday, Senate lawmakers unanimously passed the bill, which was also passed on a voice vote in the house.  It now goes to President Trump for a final signature.

It was sponsored by Florida Reps. Ted Deutch and Vern Buchanan.

Deutch, a Democrat, said it:

“Sends a clear message that our society does not accept cruelty against animals.” 

Buchanan, a Republican, said;

“The torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. worked with Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn, to shepherd the bill through congress and called it a major victory in efforts to halt animal cruelty and make communities safer.

“Until tonight, Congress has never passed a comprehensive animal torture law,” Toomey tweeted. “After years of work, the PACT Act, which I intro’d with @SenBlumenthal, is now on its way to the president’s desk. It establishes strong penalties for monsters who hurt animals.” 

 

It would prohibit extreme acts of cruelty when they occur in interstate commerce or on federal property, and it also cracks down on sexual abuse of animals… expanding a 2010 law that made the creation or distribution of so-called “animal crushing” videos illegal. 

Right now federal law bans the sale or distribution of videos showing animals being crushed, burned or tortured, but it does not explicitly prohibit the acts themselves. The new bill would make the underlying acts of cruelty a federal crime.

The bill was backed by the National Sheriffs’ Association and Fraternal Order of Police which cited a well-documented connection between animal cruelty and violence against people.

Great.  I’m totally on board with making this a federal crime.  My question is simply this.  Why aren’t we doing the same for attacks on law enforcement officers?  Why can we get bipartisan support to treat animals better than we treat police?

The physical assaults on members of our law enforcement communities are at an all-time high.

Those intent on the extermination of officers have ushered in an unprecedented level of lawlessness, disregard for human life and moral depravity.

And for those of us looking for an end to this violent display of hatred towards the men and women the serve and protect us, it has not appeared that help was on the way.

Then Senate Bill 1480, also known as the “Back the Blue Act,” was introduced and the United Coalition of Public Safety (UCOPS) championed the effort of seeing that this legislation becomes law.

Allow me a moment to recap what we have seen over the past few years. This is not an exhaustive list; it is merely a reminder of exactly what we are dealing with.

While it shows that many assaults of our LEOs are merely spur of the moment actions to avoid arrest, it also provides evidence that numerous attacks are premeditated and carried out with malice and a malicious pre-meditated strategy.

A man drove up the east coast to New York City for the sole purpose of assassinating members of the NYPD. And he did exactly that. While two officers were sitting in their patrol vehicle, he walked to the window of the vehicle and shot both officers at point blank range before they had time to react or respond.

Another man positioned himself in a high-rise building in Dallas and started targeting cops. By the time he was eliminated, he had murdered 5 Dallas area cops from his sniper position.

A California patrol officer responding to a vehicle accident, was gunned down by a passing cyclist as she tried to speak with the accident victims.

Six officers were shot in an ambush in Baton Rouge. Three of those officers died of their injuries.

Over the past several weeks alone, we have seen many officers shot while serving a warrant. Luckily, six officers in Philadelphia survived their encounter. Sadly, as we have detailed in numerous pieces, we have lost multiple members of our LEO family as they were simply and dutifully doing their jobs. 

We could fill pages recounting the events that have led to far too many funerals officers, deputies, constables and agents. We could fill even more space sharing the stories of officers attacked during the most routine traffic stops or encounters in which people decided resisting and fighting with officers was the best option for them. Officers have been injured severely, or even killed, in these types of scenarios.

Enter Senate Bill 1480 and the UCOPS efforts to see it signed into law.

What does this bill do? It allows for federal prosecution of these criminals if the state or local jurisdiction fails to prosecute or if the sentence is not commensurate with the crime upon conviction.

Who does it cover and provide protection for?

  • Police officers
  • Judges
  • Firefighters
  • Prosecutors
  • Pretrial service officers

What type of violent acts are covered?

  • Assault officer while performing duties
  • Attacks on former LEO based on duties performed
  • Attacks because the person was perceived to be a LEO

Does the bill carry details on how sentencing should be impacted for these heinous acts against or emergency responders and other members of our criminal justice system? Yes, it does. 

  • Assault (bodily injury): not less than 2 years, not more than 10 years
  • Assault (substantial bodily injury): not less than 5 years, not more than 20 years
  • Assault (serious bodily injury): not less than 10 years
  • Deadly/Dangerous weapon used: not less than 20 years
  • Death: minimum of 30 years, up to death penalty.

Thankfully, someone at the federal level of legislators is taken this seriously and is willing to put pen to paper and address this issue.

The bill, in its entirety, can be read here.

Here at Law Enforcement Today, we keep a very close eye on legislative measures and how they impact our community. We also love to highlight groups that champion efforts to protect our officers.

UCOPS happens to be one of those groups. So, who are they?

Did you know that Law Enforcement Today has a private new home for those who support emergency responders and veterans?  It’s called LET Unity, and it’s where we share the untold stories of those patriotic Americans.  Every penny gets reinvested into giving these heroes a voice.  Check it out today.

"Not in our county": Annoying police officers could soon be illegal.

In their own words: In 2017, nine Law Enforcement Associations came together with a vision and a desire to impact the national discussion on law enforcement in a dynamic way. This alliance was formalized by establishing the United Coalition of Public Safety (UCOPS).

And their mission?

The United Coalition of Public Safety works on behalf of law enforcement officers and the communities they serve nationwide to shape strong partnerships and break down communication barriers; building trust through active engagement, honest dialogue, education, and outreach.

Lastly, what efforts are they deploying to see that the “Back the Blue” Act makes it to the Oval Office for the President’s Signature?

“UCOPS is launching a digital ad campaign to support U.S. Senate Bill 1480, the “Back the Blue Act,” which will allow for federal prosecution of those that target law enforcement officers for assault. We need your help to advocate for the passage of S. 1480 by getting your membership and their families engaged. By visiting www.UCOPS.org your members and their families can spend under a minute to send a targeted, pre-written email to their respective members of Congress.”  

Now is the time for law enforcement to stand up and demand that we get the protections we need to do the dangerous work our members do every day! 

We are providing the links to the multiple methods for you to show your support of this effort through social media and direct email.

Facebook

The UCPOS digital ad and related post can be found at the link below.  Please share this with your audience and tag other organizations or your House and Senate representatives.  Please post with these hashtags: #YESonS1480 #BackTheBlue

Facebook Link

Twitter

The UCPOS digital ad and related post can be found at the link below.  Please share this with your audience and tag other organizations or your House and Senate representatives.   Please post with these hashtags: #YESonS1480 #BackTheBlue

Twitter Link

YouTube

If you would like to distribute the ad directly, you can share it from YouTube which can be found at this link. For those seeking to embed the video onto your website, the YouTube video has the embed settings on and you can access the code from the video on our

YouTube Link

E-mail Your Legislator

In addition to sharing the video through social media, your organization can assist in building support for S. 1480 by having your members go to this link and fill out the form to send an e-mail to their local Congressional representative and their State’s US Senators.  A sample email is already written for you. It will take you no more than 1 minute to complete.

If you use Twitter, the online tool will let you tweet at your representatives as well.

We would like to say thank you to Angela and Stacey for providing the details on the UCOPS efforts to see this bill enacted and our prayer is that in doing so, it saves countless lives and puts an end to this tragic pandemic we are currently facing.

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