More Legislators Think Underprivileged Cops Need 'Hate Crime' Law Protections

from the won't-someone-think-of-the-guys-with-power-and-guns?!!?! dept

Another US city has stepped up to shelter some of its most privileged citizens from “hate crimes.”

The Red Wing (MN) City Council passed a resolution last week calling for crimes against law enforcement to be prosecutable as hate crimes.

The picturesque town on the banks of the Mississippi River is believed to be the second place in the nation — and the first city — to pass such a resolution.

“It seems that anyone wearing a blue uniform has become a target in the minds of a lot of people — a target not because of what they’re doing, but a target because of who they are, which for me really kind of moves it into the hate crimes area,” said Council Vice President Peggy Rehder. “In this case, it’s not the color of their skin, but the color of their uniform.”

First off, cops aren’t being targeted with any more regularity than they’ve ever been. In fact, the last time cops were “targeted” at a level anyone rational would consider to be a problem was during Prohibition, nearly 100 years ago. (The second spike is due to another round of prohibition — the declaration of the “War on Drugs” by President Richard Nixon.)

What “hate crimes” laws attempt to do (in their very inept, redundant way) is address inequality. Underprivileged groups often subjected to racism and other biases are the beneficiaries of these well-meaning laws. But even the most ardent supporter of hate crime legislation would be hard-pressed to find a reason to “protect” a group with vast amounts of authority and power.

If evening out inequality is the goal, the law’s intentions are being severely twisted by resolutions like these. To paraphrase George Orwell, law enforcement officers are animals much more “equal” than the public they’re supposed to serve. Much like the politicians that so often shield them, cops, sheriffs and others are a step or two above the laws they enforce. It takes an incredible stretch of the imagination to find police officers deserving of additional protections.

As Overlawyered’s Walter Olson points out in his editorial at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, this resolution is a solution in search of a problem. And applying it will only create more problems.

It is common for hate-crime laws to create multiple jeopardy at different court levels arising from a single offense, which is often considered a danger to liberty, even if courts do not always find that it formally violates the Bill of Rights’ double jeopardy clause. But defenders of these laws argue that local authorities in many parts of the country long refused to take seriously crimes against certain scorned or disenfranchised minorities, thus in their view justifying a second layer of prosecutorial attention.

But there’s no evidence that authorities now or in the past have brushed off lethal attacks on police as something not worth investigating or prosecuting.

If a person shoots a cop, a manhunt immediately ensues. The same cannot be said about racially or religiously-motivated killings. In those cases, an investigation ensues before such a motive is firmly established. Recently though, any act of violence against an officer has almost always been portrayed as a “targeted” attack.

Law enforcement officers work in a violent business. They will often find themselves in situations where they may be injured or killed. This is part of the job. What it isn’t, however, is a non-stop sequence of “hate crimes. But if this law goes into effect, any act of violence — even the BS “assault” of officers (attacking fists with faces, inadvertent contact, not somehow materializing fully-cuffed and seated in a squad car the moment an officer declares you under arrest, etc.) — can subject a person to additional legal penalties. And this would be on top of existing additional legal penalties.

Attacking a police officer already carries serious consequences in Minnesota. Under state law, an assault on a law enforcement officer can mean increased fines and jail time. If the officer is injured, a misdemeanor assault can bump up to a felony. State law also carries enhanced penalties for attacks on many professions, including firefighters, judges, prosecutors, teachers and postal workers, among others.

This isn’t stopping police unions and the politicians who listen to them from pushing for these extra protections. And they’re doing so with a dearth of evidence supporting their claims that being a cop is more dangerous than it’s ever been. Even the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund’s official stats show an 18% decline in fatal shootings of officers compared to last year.

Pay no attention to the statistics, though. It’s what law enforcement officers feel is happening that really matters.

Over time, the number of officers killed has remained “relatively static,” [Fraternal Order of Police Executive Director] Jim Pasco said, but the numbers don’t take into account the better equipment, training and medical care benefiting police in recent years. “The overwhelming anecdotal evidence that comes to us: There’s an increased hostility,” Pasco said.

The words “overwhelming” and “anecdotal” should never be combined with “evidence.” You can strike either “overwhelming” or “anecdotal” and still form a credible sentence. But you can’t combine both and expect to be taken seriously. Not when the actual stats don’t back up these assertions.

These are legislative proposals based on nothing more than law enforcement’s unwillingness to reap what years of abusive behavior has sewn. These entities aren’t pushing these laws to address known flaws in the justice system. They’re pushing them to forcefully “restore” the respect they’ve squandered.

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Comments on “More Legislators Think Underprivileged Cops Need 'Hate Crime' Law Protections”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Hmm

“I think the peak at 70-75 is more the confluence of the end of the Civil Rights movement with the height of the Vietnam War protests. The War on Drugs was more an 80’s thing in any case.”

You are correct. Well, sort of …

Although Nixon called recreational drug use “public enemy number one” — the term “war on drugs” was popularized by Ronald Reagan a whole decade after Nixon’s anti-drug crusade. The 1980s were a time when the country was much less war-weary than it had been during the later years of the Vietnam War (a time when the word “war” had a distinctly negative connotation) when Nixon desperately needed to find a new enemy to rally against.

Incidentally, when Nixon’s drug crusade began in June 1971, the number of police killings had already reached its peak. According to that graph, it was during 1966-1971 when the number of police killings skyrocketed, which, perhaps by sheer coincidence, happens to correspond to the “civil rights” era … as well as anti-war sentiment … as well as the rise of the ‘hippie’ movement.

It would be interesting to know the racial makeup of the cop killers, and specifically how it changed during the late 1960s. Although “overwhelming anecdotal evidence” suggests that the late-1960s crime explosion was overwhelmingly perpetrated by one particular minority group (which shall remain nameless).

Anonymous Coward says:

Sounds good. Now we just need a similar law that allows survivors of unwarranted police action and brutality to treat those transgressions as hate crimes. Did the police tase you for no justifiable reason? Hate crime. This seems completely reasonable given the overwhelming evidence that the authorities clearly hate the general public.

Anonymous Coward says:

When you are losing (or have lost) the respect of the people as is with the current situation with law enforcement; it seems to be prudent to try to earn their trust again (winning hearts & minds perhaps?) rather than reclassify these CIVIL(IAN) servants into a “protected class” such as with those under current hate crime laws.

I’m no law stylist, but couldn’t this type of legislation translate into that law enforcement personnel are now “victims” where the nature of their job conflicts with their newly given (not earned) status thereby negating their authority? I know, its almost like a Moebius Loop.

Either that or stop acting like you’re a soldier adhering to some pseudo warrior ethos walking a beat in a warzone (the city you serve) and stop reporting to your union first instead of your chain of command.

rant finished

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: if organized, gun-toting cops are living in such fear.....

It is further proof of why laws based upon emotional states are a terrible idea. Being afraid is an /asset/ to them! If they keep a cool head they need to be careful. But if they “fear for their life” it instantly justifies the most egregious misconducts.

Perhaps they want the police to be role models – be afraid because fear is power.

Logos says:

Police Deaths

Police deaths isn’t a particularly good statistic to look at. A lot has changed over the last 30-40 years, to include police training standards, grants and policies requiring ballistic vests, huge improvements in emergency medicine and even the types of guns carried.
Officers assaulted with guns gives a better picture, and that’s remained relatively consistent, including through the ‘peak’ years. The last few years aren’t statistically unusual in any direction.

Regardless of all that, I will reiterate my earlier thoughts that “hate crime” = “thought crime” and I find the entire notion repugnant and a perversion of justice.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Well he's /half/ right...

“The overwhelming anecdotal evidence that comes to us: There’s an increased hostility,” Pasco said.

I’d say he’s half right, but it’s the less significant half. Are people more ‘hostile’ towards police, less trusting towards them these days? Quite possibly. However, he ignores the reason for it: The police themselves.

If people are less and less trusting of the police, it’s because the police have shown that they aren’t worthy of trust.

If people have ‘hostile attitudes’ towards the police, it’s because the police have shown ‘hostile attitudes’ towards the public, and much like someone faced with a bully, eventually people decide to return the favor.

Trust cannot be demanded, it must be earned, and that’s all on them. Likewise, if they want people to stop seeing them as a threat, they need to stop treating the public as one, and do something about those that make them all look bad, something other than ‘close ranks and protect our own’.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Well he's /half/ right...

Why should we not trust a group that rather than press charges like we would face, allow their brother officers to retire with full benefits?
Why should we not trust a group willing to ignore the new hire was run out of a different PD before all of the excessive force complaints couldn’t be swept under the rug?
Why should we not trust a group willing to lie repeatedly, even in the face of video showing showing they lied?
Why should we trust a group that will lock normal people in a room for hours at a time to get statements, but give their own days & review of the notes/video to make the narrative work?

Much like the national security wonks, they forgot what they are supposed to be doing and now live in a fantasy land where they are superheroes with special powers. We gave them all of the toys they dreamed of, but not the rational thought or self control required to keep them from trying them out at the drop of a hat. Your rights don’t matter when they need to try out the riot gear.

Anonymous Coward says:

Self Fullilling Prophecy

The same bullshit, the same channel, the same damn time and place.

We feel threatened therefore we need more protection that allows us to be even more punkish, so they will hate us even more giving us even more reason to continue to feel threatened, which gives us even more excuse to escalate and retaliate until everyone is trying to kill each other…


The police want total authority over your every move so that anything short of complete and subservient compliance to their orders can be considered a crime guilty of death the moment an officer feels threatened or justified in ending your life… Justice, Constitution, “The People” be damned!

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m definitely on the side of the citizen in just about anything that involves government action, but unfortunately I have also seen stuff being done to police solely because they are police. Police in our area have had the lug nuts loosened on their vehicles, been harassed, and assaulted.

They are not all bad and they shouldn’t have to deal with crap from the worlds dicks anymore than any other group.

There are police whom have earned people trust.

annonymouse (profile) says:

Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Oct 22nd, 2015 @ 7:29pm

If they are so good then why the (censored) have they not done anything about the bad ones?

My own peev with them is the deliberate dehumanizing of people by them and their supporters. How you may ask? Just listen to them speak. Only a few avoid the terms male and female when talking about anyone not a cop. This isn’t national geographic doing an essay on chimpanzees or wombats. How is this any different than the crap by both sides during and after each of the world wars to excuse their attocities perpetuated on those others.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“Police in our area have had the lug nuts loosened on their vehicles”

Could that be a reason why police departments across the country are loading up on tracked vehicles?

But seriously, lug nuts can also loosen on their own, especially if not torqed down properly. But paranoid people tend to blame ‘natural’ occurences on whatever it is that they’re obsessively afraid of. And anyway, anyone seen running up to a police car holding a tire iron probably risks being shot.

Peter says:

The real problem

There being a Hate crime law specifically for cops and the perverse sentences is a problem, but is not the real problem. All the talk is about applying the law against people specifically targeting the cops, but we all know what the actual effect will be.

Say ‘No’ to a cop, thats a hate crime
Its no longer resisting arrest, its a hate crime.
Video a cop, thats a hate crime
Shout ‘fuck the pigs’, that no longer protected speaech, its a hate crime

In fact, if I was the producers/distributers of the Simsons, I would be talking to a lawyer right now. The depiction of Chief Wiggum, thats a hate crime..

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

First off, cops aren’t being targeted with any more regularity than they’ve ever been. In fact, the last time cops were “targeted” at a level anyone rational would consider to be a problem was during Prohibition, nearly 100 years ago.

(insert graphic showing anti-police violence near historical lows and in a clear downtrend)

Law enforcement officers work in a violent business. They will often find themselves in situations where they may be injured or killed. This is part of the job.

Say what now?

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Cops are attacked and killed at a far higher rate than people in my industry. That police killings are at a low doesn’t change the fact that being a cop puts you into dangerous situations as a inherent part of the job.

But it’s very easy to overstate how dangerous being a cop is. It’s not even in the top 10 most dangerous professions in the US.

Logos says:

Re: Re: Re:

But it’s very easy to overstate how dangerous being a cop is. It’s not even in the top 10 most dangerous professions in the US.

By what measure? There are tens of thousands of assaults on police each year, every year. The fact that there are not more injuries or deaths is due to the fact that police receive the training and equipment to defend themselves from harm, no from a lack of dangerous encounters.

Furthermore, interpersonal human violence leaves a decidedly different psychological impact than an accident.
If someone were to fall off their bicycle and suffer from abrasions, bruises and a broken arm, it will not hurt any more or less than a person who is violently attacked in an alley and suffers the same injuries. The method of injury will affect those people in very different ways. It is worth noting that difference when comparing the dangers of various occupations…it is not apples to apples.

Logos says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

While I’m sure your mindreading powers usually serve you quite well, in this instance your psychic prowess has led you far astray from my ‘goal’.

If the point you are referring to is the article and hate crimes laws, I have already twice expressed my opinion in this thread that it is an absolutely horrible idea.

BernardoVerda says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Driving cab is a riskier profession than being a police officer (including assault and death by violence).

And Police officers are supposedly trained to exercise sound judgement under stress and in confrontational situations, and uphold (includes “to follow”) the law while doing so.

All American Citizen says:

Policy Governing Law Enforcement

Policy flowing down the tube from the New World Order governing how agressively law enforcement treats American citizens should be overseen by an All American Panel that respects Americans and is also fully aware of agendas driving the New World Order. Maybe that way law enforcement will be forced to remember that we American citizens are not their enemies.

GEMont (profile) says:

Hammer and Nail

…And applying it will only create more problems.

Ah. Its always nice to see that at least one person has figured out the true purpose of the legislation.

By enacting laws that create more of the problems it pretends to eradicate, one can eventually make the original claim that allowed the law to be enacted, a reality.

Just like the War on Drugs eventually created a world where drugs are visibly an every day reality, eventually people WILL start to shoot cops – out of simple self preservation of course – which will “PROVE” via vast and continuous coverage in the Truth Free Press, that people ARE shooting Cops, justifying the introduction of more fascist friendly, freedom killing laws.

Just as the War on Terror’s continuous Drone Bombings of innocent civilians all over the world, will eventually convince the survivors of these clandestine mass murders, to start using the same devices – gleefully sold to them by America’s government – to anonymously attack American citizens in the same fashion, and create that essential PROOF that the War on Terror advocates need to get more funding and convince the public that more and stricter fascist friendly freedom killing laws are needed.

War on Cyber Crime
War on Copyright Infringers
War on Radicalization
War on Dissent
War on Encryption
War on Anti-Corporate Speech
War on Anti-Government Speech
War on Self Medication
War on Impure Thought
War on Hoarding
War on …..
War on, War on, War on, War on, and on and on…

In order to make laws that promote the fascist agenda of legalized population control, it is almost always necessary to manufacture and promote a “problem”, until the public demands that legislation be enacted to fight that problem.

Its a business model that works every time.

So better get used to it, cuz it aint going away till it stops working and stops making the REAL crooks rich.

So, War On Suckers.

Anonymous Coward says:

If in fact we hope to ever codify correctly the manner in which the government interacts with the citizenry where by all source for derision of authority is eliminated, and the ideals ensconced by “All Men are Created Equal” are truely brought to fruition… then mustn’t we abandon the whole notion of “hate crimes”…
If they don’t undermine; and in fact are hypocritical of equal value of all men, then what is?
I submit hate crime legislation fan the fires of prejudice and discontent.
Something for which we have little need …

tqk (profile) says:

Orwell was a piker. Lewis Carrol is who should be lauded.

I submit hate crime legislation fan the fires of prejudice and discontent.

No, no, no. It merely enables righteous retribution upon those deemed to be committing a hate crime, the latter details to be determined in camera session later by the judge and prosecutor.

Your (and my) obvious prejudice against, and discontent with, our judges and prosecutors is duly noted and will be stored for potential future actions. Thank you for complying. HAND.

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