Attacks on police marked as hate crimes by N.J. Lawmaker
According to a New Jersey lawmaker, Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-Monmouth) wants to make attacks on cops a hate crime for which he is going to introduce a bill.
On Monday, Kyrillos told that he has decided to introduce a legislation which will expand upon the New Jersey’s hate crime statute. Violence against police will be included in it. The proposed measure will add law enforcement officers and emergency services personnel to the list of protected groups. Under the law, an individual will be guilty of bias intimidation if he/she commits another prohibited act like assault or harassment, “under circumstances that would cause a reasonable individual or group of individuals to be intimidated.”
The decision was made after 5 cops died in a shooting incident and 7 others sustained life-threatening injuries during a protest over fatal police shootings in Texas last week.
Kyrillos added, “We cannot allow an entire class of public servants to be targeted for violence due to their profession. If such attacks don’t qualify as hate crimes, I don’t know what does”.
The law that is in place now doesn’t allow so-called bias intimidation based on 9 different categories including:
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
- National origin
Tony Perry, Kyrillos’ director of legislative affairs, said that he has decided to propose the legislation on Thursday. A measure similar to his proposed bill was introduced once before in the month of January.
The public policy director at the New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, Ari Rosmarin, said the shooting incident and attacks as “senseless”. But according to his opinion, the proposed changes to the hate crime law were not required. He has the view that there is a need to add life without parole in the New Jersey law for cop killers. It also distinguishes assault on a cop as a more critical offense than assault of a civilian. Rosmarin further said, “The events of the past week should generate a refocused effort in Trenton on fixing our broken criminal justice system, but this isn’t it”.
Preliminary data released by the FBI showed that the rate of cops killed by the suspects declined from the year 2014; a decrease of 20% is seen in the number of cops death cases.
The president of the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association, Patrick Colligan, said that cops on patrol feel under attack and unsecure after the shooting incident. He told that the offender Micah Xavier Johnson told police he wanted to kill the white police officers and “pointed his rifle with hate. ”
According to Colligan, the proposed bill “sends the message that we’re a separate class”. He also said, “I know commercial fishermen and coal miners have a more dangerous profession (in terms of on-the-job deaths), but they’re killed because of accidents. We’re targeted because of the uniform”.