Congressman Wants To Make Attacking A Cop A Federal 'Hate' Crime

from the won't-someone-think-of-the-blue-children?!? dept

We’ve seen this sort of thing proposed at the state level on more than one occasion. But Rep. Ken Buck, a former DOJ prosecutor, wants to take it national, as Chris Seaton reports for Fault Lines.

Colorado representative Ken Buck is very concerned about the health and well being of our nation’s police officers. His concern for officer safety in a world that “hates cops” is such that that he’s introduced legislation making attacks on police officers a federal hate crime.

Buck’s “Blue Lives Matter Act,” H.R. 4760, would make “an attack on a police officer a hate crime,” according to the bill’s text. The name of the legislation, filed Wednesday, alludes to the “Black Lives Matter” mantra taken up by activists who protest police violence against black people, particularly the killings of unarmed black people at the hands of police.

The bill not only makes an attack on a police officer (or an attack that appears to be motivated by the fact that the person represents law and order) a “hate crime,” but it also makes it a federal crime. Buck apparently feels this legislation is going to win hearts and minds, as there’s no avoiding it when you visit his website.


The proposal is also accompanied by a heartfelt “Dear Colleague” letter that talks about cops “holding together the fabric of our nation” and how they’ve been “intimidated” by recent acts of violence. No statistics are cited to back up his insistence that this a real problem that needs to be addressed with legislation… because there aren’t any.

The National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund’s stats show the number of officers killed in the line of duty has been decreasing over the last several years and appears to have hit a lower plateau of ~120/year for the past four years.


The number of officers killed in the line of duty to date this year stands at 29, which would put year-end totals roughly in the same neighborhood as the past half-decade. And yet, every death is greeted with claims that the law enforcement profession is deadlier than ever.

Law enforcement officers are better protected (by laws and policies, on top of actual physical protective gear) than members of the public but they’re apparently not protected enough. Buck’s legislation allows officers — who have made a voluntary choice to pursue a more dangerous career — to count themselves as an underprivileged class, most of whom have no choice whatsoever in their current status. Back to Chris Seaton:

Why add a job, something a person applied for and trained to do, to a list of concepts like “religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability?” If you’re a logical, rational person (and we’ll assume you are, since reading Fault Lines puts you in that bracket), you should be able to spot the flaws with Buck’s rationale right away…

People can’t choose their race, gender, disability or sexual orientation. Cops choose to be cops. If officers don’t like the increased risk inherent to their profession, they can always quit. Most of the other groups routinely covered by hate crime legislation don’t have that luxury.

The bill’s broad wording would allow federal prosecutors to bring hate crime charges for even the simplest of assaults — provided the action could conceivably be perceived as “anti-law enforcement.” Here’s Seaton’s hypothetical:

The arbitrary nature of the Blue Lives Matter Act is clear when you notice it’s a federal offense if someone is attacked because they’re “perceived” to be a police officer. There’s no need to prove cop status under the Blue Lives Matter Act. If an AUSA has evidence someone yelled “FUCK THE POLICE” at a Rage Against the Machine concert before slugging a security guard, they can make it a hate crime and force the defendant to plead down from there.

Police officers are already a protected class. They have their own Bills of Rights. They have good faith exceptions, immunity that shields them from many civil lawsuits, the power to stop and detain people for almost any pretense and the constant support of hundreds of legislators around the country. They don’t need any more help. They’re as far away from “underprivileged” as any group could be.

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Comments on “Congressman Wants To Make Attacking A Cop A Federal 'Hate' Crime”

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72 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

Taking a problem and making it worse

A good part of the disconnect between police and the public is the perceived, and often very real difference in how the legal system treats the two groups. What might lead to a regular person facing a hefty fine or even prison sentence is just brushed aside if a cop does it.

Police already enjoy significant legal and ‘legal’ protections and benefits that those around them do not, something which acts as a point of contention between them and the public as it makes it clear that they are not seen by the system as the same as the general public, but above them. Adding yet another ‘protection’ will just widen the gap more, making things even worse short and long-term.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Taking a problem and making it worse

Not a Chance, the people actually LIKE corrupt politicians.

Well… as long as that corrupt politician uses that corruption to get his flock their shit. They don’t care if he helps dismantle the nation in the process, at least they got theirs.

This is the state of affairs in America right now. People bitching about everyone else’s corrupt bastard while voting in their own.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Taking a problem and making it worse

Also, get rid of the Fraternal Order of the Police. That union has some of the worst representatives of the public/police interaction possible; in fact, the only thing worse than the NY branch of the Order is ISIS.

No, I’m not joking, either. The NY Fraternal Order is more toxic than plutonium waste.

Anonymous Coward says:

“If an AUSA has evidence someone yelled “FUCK THE POLICE””

Evidence? I thought that a cop’s word had more value than a citizen’s, unless there is evidence against that.

What I mean is that he would only need a “he said FUCK THE POLICE”, even if the actual citizen didn’t say so.

Worse, a cop, or a cop’s family, would also have that protection even when not wearing the uniform.

I mean, let’s say that a cop’s kid gets into a fight. There you go, “hate crime”.

And we know that is going to happen, eh “jail for not giving back a rented VHS”?

We are getting closer to grimdark (Warhammer 40K, where getting kidnapped is an “obstruction to the Emperor’s Justice”). Good job.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Where have you been? It really already is that way.

A lot of Judge’s and the masses of ignorant Jury’s have this bullshit concept that there is no reason for a Cop to lie, therefore they must be telling the truth.

Cops have been lying and getting people put in Jail for a long long, long as fucking time now.

A cop’s testimony needs to be 100% treated as the same as the Defendants testimony! What is funny is that Legally this does actually apply in courts, but you will find that this mental defect in Jurist and Jury make it so that an Officers word is worth more than it is!

Anonymous Coward says:

Unintended consequences of legislation passing...

… number of officers killed in the line of duty
2016 1000
2017 5000
2018 10000

number of family members killed as consequence of above
2016 1500
2017 8000
2018 0 – all officers are now divorced and/or single. All officers have been publicly disowned by all former members of their former families.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Dont do what a cop says? Now get charge with a fed crime.

toss up from the current don’t do what a cop says and have him unload his gun into your face.

I am not talking having a weapon and not doing what he says. I mean just not giving him the respect he demands and him responding by shooting you in the face or back.

Ninja (profile) says:

Honestly, I think cops should actually be held to higher standards exactly because they wield so much power over the common citizen in the first place. You know, to balance things out. But no, they get all the good and barely any consequences for their misdeeds.

Cops are humans. Humans are fallible and prone to power abuse. Simple as that.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

So they were fired, then got their job and back pay thanks to the union not giving a damn what they did so long as they had a badge and paid their dues…

Yeah, that’ll certainly motivate them to shape up. /s

Police unions really do seem to be the best friends of corrupt cops, and the worst enemies of what might otherwise be called ‘good’ cops, constantly doing everything they can to enforce the idea that cops have absolutely no interest in policing their own.

klaus says:

Politicians always go for the symptoms, never the root cause

“…concern for officer safety in a world that “hates cops”

There’s a mass of data that tells us that the length of jail time rarely correlates with crime rates, whatever the seriousness of the offence. And this applies to the war on drugs, the war on terror…

Yet you rarely see any politician try and address the root cause. So I ask you why, so-called “Rep.” Ken Buck, why does the world hate cops? Can I suggest it’s that they’re already over-protected and not acting for the good of the public?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Haven’t you seen the new double barrel gun that folds up like a mobile phone?

Sure, but that was clearly inspired by the conduct GP referenced. After all, if the cops already cannot tell a real mobile phone from a gun, you are not raising your risk by carrying a gun that looks like a real mobile phone. The cops will say it was a gun either way, so you may as well get the benefits of being armed (defending yourself from wildlife, non-badge-wearing criminals, etc.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

What do you mean “another excuse”? They already get away with “I thought he had a gun” when it is clear that a reasonable person would not have thought that, or that a reasonable person would have responded in a way that did not involve immediately opening firing.

GP’s point was that cops are already unable (or at least claim to be unable) to tell the difference between a phone and a gun, so you may as well have the gun for those cases when the other party is not a cop and can legally be fired upon. People carrying actual phones are already targets for cops, but when they are carrying an actual phone, it does them no good against non-police adversaries.

astroboi says:

Inflation:

Punishment inflation is real. The RICO act, originally intended to combat the MAFIA now applies to any crime involving two or more persons. The concept of “criminal tools” originally applied to crowbars for burglars and printing presses for counterfieters. Now it applies to anybody who allegedly breaks the law unless they are naked and have nothing in their hands. One famous case charged an alleged prostitute with the “tools” crime for posessing high heeled shoes….clearly a “tool of her trade”! So now the concept of “hate crime”, originally intended to cover racially motivated lynchings and pogroms is reduced to “somebody said ‘cops are finks’ or at least I think they did”. We all are guilty so just declare the USA to be one big prison and call it a day.

Anonymous Coward says:

If Congress had any balls at all, they should make any police abuse of authority towards citizens a hate crime instead.

Since they’re in a position of trust, any abuse of that trust undermines the entire system. If cops don’t like the fact that they’re generally hated, then perhaps they should start fixing their image.

Real punishments for transgressions – not just settlements, where no one admits to anything, and the taxpayers foot the bill. A hate crime law protecting citizens would be a great start.

DannyB (profile) says:

Police should be a protected class from hate crimes

People with low IQ are often bullied and hated just because they are not as bright as everyone else.

Some police departments have a maximum IQ that officers are allowed to have as a condition of employment.

So doesn’t it make sense that it could be construed as a hate crime to attack a police officer?

Anonymous Coward says:

The long history of cop discrimination

Well who knew cops had a history of being discriminated against, in ways such as…

* People trying to prevent them from voting.

* Hate Groups being made just to hate cops, and often going out to commit violence against cops just out of pure hatred.

* Cops being relegated to second class citizens who are expected to stay at home and care for the kids while their spouse ‘wears the pants’ and gets to make all the decisions.

* People insisting whenever a cop reports they were raped that they must be liars, or must have done something to deserve it, like wear too sexy of an outfit to ‘tempt’ their rapists.

* Cops being disowned by their family for ‘coming out’ as a cop.

* Cops having to listen to people say that cops worship an evil god who promotes violence against non-cops. With many of those people pointing to one really bad cop who led a bunch of crooked cops that violently killed a bunch of innocent people and arguing all cops are the same.

* Cops having to deal with extra hassle at airports from TSA agents who believe that any cop trying to board a plane must be up to no good.

* Cops being sent to different, inferior & underfunded schools then others, under the claim that it’s ‘separate but equal’.

* Politicians regularly talking about how they’ll stand up against the cops and protect you from them.

* Large amounts of Americans supporting the idea of banning cops from entering the country.

Yep, looks like cops have a long history of being discriminated against to me!

DOlz (profile) says:

Lets look at that chart

I took a look at the chart and from 1921 thru 1935 over two hundred officers were killed a year. With 1930 hitting 304. This was at a time when the US population was smaller and there were fewer Police. If you adjust for those increases I’m sure the numbers would be a lot higher.

Moving down the chart from 1970 thru 1981 again over two hundred Officers were killed in each of these years except 1977 where 194 died. Again I would point out the US had smaller Police and civilian populations at that time.

Finally looking at the causes of law enforcement deaths which only goes back to 2005 we find that:

Pulling out those deaths that were deliberate (shooting, stabbing, struck by vehicle ( it doesn’t break this down by accident verse deliberate ), strangled, bomb-related, and terrorist attack)

In 2005 only 78 were killed as opposed to 163 total

In 2006 only 72 were killed as opposed to 156 total

In 2007 only 89 were killed as opposed to 192 total

In 2008 only 64 were killed as opposed to 148 total

In 2009 only 61 were killed as opposed to 125 total

In 2010 only 73 were killed as opposed to 161 total

In 2011 only 88 were killed as opposed to 171 total

In 2012 only 69 were killed as opposed to 126 total

In 2013 only 48 were killed as opposed to 107 total

In 2014 only 59 were killed as opposed to 117 total

I leave up to the reader whether the horse related death in 2012 was a hate crime.

DB (profile) says:

I think that it was here on techdirt that someone linked to the Officer Down Memorial Page, odmp.org.

I found their counting methodology rather… relaxed.
They included police dogs in the count. In some cases you had to read the description carefully to figure out that it was a dog. And they included a wide variety of deaths, including heart attacks while on call or during off-duty work, a correction officer falling from a ladder during maintenance work, and several single-car accidents that may have been off-duty pursuits.

If you eliminate the single-car accidents, and regular car accidents (prisoner transport appears to be risky) the numbers are much lower.

If

tom (profile) says:

Why is Criminal A killing/raping/vandalizing Victim B somehow worse if Criminal A has different skin color, religious beliefs or sexual preferences then Victim B? Victim B is just as dead or traumatized. If the sentence for the basic crime isn’t harsh enough, change that rather then creating a special class of crime based on Criminal A being different somehow then Victim B. Hate crime charges by definition are discriminatory.

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s not that it’s “worse”.

It’s basically an expanded version of “more intense incentives require more extreme deterrents”.

Imagine that you have Person A, Person B, and Person C.

Person A hates the class of persons to which Person C belongs, but not the class to which Person B belongs.

The sentence for the basic crime is (in theory and in principle) calculated so that if Person A wants to do something to Person B which would be considered a crime, the anticipated punishment should be enough to make Person A change his/her/etc. mind.

However, if Person A wants to do something to Person C which would be considered a crime, the established class-of-persons-based hatred means that Person A’s motivation for going through with the crime is stronger than it would be in the case of Person B, so the anticipated punishment from the sentence for the basic crime may no longer be enough to make Person A change his/her/etc. mind.

As such, establishing a separate and more severe class of sentences based on the existence of the class-of-persons hatred should scale up the deterrent effect of the anticipated punishment to match the stronger incentive which that hatred provides.

It’s entirely possible that this theory doesn’t stand up in the real world, but I think that’s the basic reasoning, and it has nothing to do with the crime being somehow “worse” because of the bias involved; it has to do only with the strength of the incentive to commit the crime.

DigDug says:

Sorry there dumbass, but "ALL" lives matter

Being a cop, a fed, an ABC asshole doesn’t make you “special”.

It’s a job choice, one that comes with a lot of “power” that is easily abused by those who probably shouldn’t be allowed off the pre-school playground.

Any life taken is a bad thing. We don’t need special treatment for choosing to “attempt” to protect others.

Making it a federal crime to kill a cop is ridiculous.

That becomes prejudicial and unconstitutional. No special treatment should be allwed for any government worker or employee, any, up through the PotUS.

They are our underlings, our employees, we are their bosses.

Our lives are more important than theirs, as they’re the ones who swore oaths to protect us from their own privations and predatory actions.

They swore oaths to uphold the laws of the land, all of the laws, not just the ones they don’t find inconvenient.

Rekrul says:

Police officers are already a protected class. They have their own Bills of Rights. They have good faith exceptions, immunity that shields them from many civil lawsuits, the power to stop and detain people for almost any pretense and the constant support of hundreds of legislators around the country. They don’t need any more help. They’re as far away from “underprivileged” as any group could be.

Plus they have the five magic words that shield them from virtually any consequences for their actions: “I feared for my safety.”

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