ATLANTA, GA – A new law has gone in effect in Georgia, one that treats attacks – be they harassment or physical – against police officers motivated solely or in part by them being first responders will be treated as a “bias-motivated offense“.
— Lee Sullivan (@leesullivan) January 2, 2021
In short, these sort of criminal acts directed toward law enforcement will bear a resemblance to how hate crimes are treated.
Back in August of 2020, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed House Bill 838, then known as the Police Protection Act, into law. Later being rebranded as the “Bias Motivated Intimidation of First Responders Prosecution Act”, the law has now come into effect as of January 1st, 2021.
Ever since word got round that Governor Kemp signed the act into law back in August of 2020, those bearing anti-police sentiments were upset that police officers being targeted for violence or harassment would be treated similar to those experiencing similar offenses that were motivated for traditional protected statuses.
In an attempt to malign the law back in August, the Georgia NAACP referred to the legislation as the “Police Hate Crimes Bill”. Which, while it was an attempt to manufacture outrage over the legislation, it’s perhaps one of the most accurate descriptions of the law.
Examining the legislation in the most simplest of terms, offenders who target either actual first responders or people they merely suspect to be first responders could face 1 to 5 years in prison for acts ranging from harassment to murder.
For instance, if a suspect intentionally damaged a police officer’s property in Georgia – and there’s evidence to suggest the crime was committed because the victim was a police officer – then the suspect would face “bias motivated” charges on top of whatever other criminals charges are applied.
Basically, things that were already illegal in Georgia – harassment, assault/battery, murder, property damage, etc. – can now see suspects face more severe consequences of they’re found to have victimized someone because they know/believe they’re a first responder.
So while the legislation itself isn’t exactly making anything illegal that wasn’t before, it is serving as a means to create pause within would-be offenders who wish to victimize people based upon their profession in law enforcement.
When Governor Kemp first signed the bill into law, he stated the following:
“House Bill 838 is a step forward as we work to protect those who are risking their lives to protect us.”
“While some vilify, target, and attack our men and women in uniform for personal or political gain, this legislation is a clear reminder that Georgia is a state that unapologetically backs the blue.”
Atlanta City councilmember Antonio Brown is among those offended by the passing and now reality of the law existing. He stated that making attacks against police officers a bias motivated crime is somehow disrespectful to families who lost loved ones due to police misconduct:
“People have loss their lives and become martyrs in the face of change in our city, state and country and this is a complete disrespect to these individuals’ families.”
While councilman Brown is not among those who champion defunding the police, he continued to denigrate the new law as a “slap in the face” to those among the anti-police protesters as of late:
“I believe the new police protection legislation that governor Kemp signed into law is reactive and a complete slap in the face of all the community organizers, activists, local municipalities that have worked tirelessly, not just during the unrest we’ve seen over the last year but over the last decade, to bridge the divide between police and community.”
Despite divided takes on the new law going into effect, this serves as a good day for law enforcement in the state of Georgia.
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For example, a type of crime that would likely be treated as such in Georgia under this new law was one that occurred earlier this year in Oklahoma.
Back in August, a police officer’s family cat was murdered and mutilated and placed in front of their home in a gruesome display.
Here’s that previous report from August of 2020.
BROKEN ARROW, OK –In what is reminiscent of a scene from the original Godfather, an incident was recently reported in which a police officer’s cat was brutally killed and cut in half. The message, being investigated by the department is that the officer or officers should be killed.
The Broken Arrow Police Department recently began an investigation regarding the gruesome killing of a Bengal cat that belonged to a police officer and his family.
Police report that the family lives in Broken Arrow and their beloved family cut had been cut into two pieces and gutted. The cat was left for the family to find across the street from their residence over the past weekend.
Broken Arrow Police Department report that there was no way that an animal could have possibly done the damage witnessed on the cat. The damage that was done could only have been done by some sick and twisted human.
As far as the family goes, their cat, Capone, is devasted that someone would do that to any animal, let alone theirs. The officer, who belongs to the Tulsa Police Department, said that the cat had been in their family for the last nine years.
Police believe that the family could have been targeted because their neighbors, and anyone who would pass by, would know that a police officer lives there. That would be because the officer would park his marked police vehicle in their driveway, and they fly a thin blue line outside of their residence.
Because of that, police believe that whoever brutally killed and tortured the family pet did so because they knew it belonged to a police officer. As such, the Broken Arrow Police Department is investigating the killing as a hate crime.
— Sierra Pizarro (@sierra_kjrh2) August 19, 2020
The family, along with members of the neighborhood and the Oklahoma Alliance for Animals have joined forces to offer a $2,500 reward for the arrest and conviction of whomever is responsible.
The Broken Arrow Police Department advises that they are pursuing the investigation as if it were a hate crime. Oklahoma and Federal law determine that a bias or hate incident is defined as any act of prejudice that are not crimes and do not involve violence, threats, or property damage.
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