Congressional Members Decide It's Time To Make Assaulting A Police Officer A Federal Hate Crime

from the knock-it-off-with-this-stupid-shit dept

It’s apparently time for a legislative update to The War on Cops. Apropos of nothing, legislators from both sides of Congress have flung some more “cops are more equal than others” legislation into the ring. Senators Orrin Hatch and Heidi Heitkamp have joined their House counterparts in attempting to make any crime against a police officers a hate crime. From Hatch’s press release:

Protect and Serve Act of 2018:

The legislation adds a new section to Chapter 7 of Title 18 that:

Makes it a federal crime to knowingly cause bodily injury to any person, or attempt to do so, because of the actual or perceived status of the person as a law enforcement officer;

Prescribes a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment for a violation, or up to a life sentence in cases that result in death or involve kidnapping;

Requires that the offense have a federal nexus;

Requires certification by the Attorney General that a state has waived jurisdiction or that federal prosecution is in the public interest and necessary to secure substantial justice; and

Requires the Attorney General to issue guidelines for determining whether a crime was committed because of the actual or perceived status of person as a law enforcement officer.

Why do we need this law? We don’t. But don’t let that stop the bill’s sponsors from arguing otherwise.

“In rural and urban areas alike, law enforcement officers face heightened risk every time they put on their uniforms,” Heitkamp said.

They actually face historically low risks, with last year’s death stats being even lower than the year before. But let’s not let actual death totals get in the way of increasing penalties for anyone who has the misfortune of dealing with cops. It doesn’t just cover murder — even though “targeted killings” are the main talking point. It covers any bodily injury, which makes it perfect for stacking charges on arrestees. Anything from an aborted fist swing to an accidental bump can be turned into an assault charge and this law gives federal prosecutors the chance to escalate the side effects of resisting arrest into a federal prison sentence. And it’s a great way to keep abused citizens from filing complaints, as Radley Balko explains:

What harm could come of this bill? An assault on a police officer charge is often used a cudgel — it’s a way of dissuading legitimate victims of police brutality from filing complaints. If such an assault charge could soon come with an additional federal charge punishable by up to 10 years in prison, that cudgel grows by about 10 sizes. It gets awfully persuasive.

Lest there’s any doubt this bill is a “hate crime” bill, the press release makes it crystal clear.

Since May 2016, several states have enacted laws that make attacking police because of their occupation a hate crime. The Protect and Serve Act takes a similar approach and is modeled after the federal hate crime statute, 18 U.S.C. § 249.

It’s true. Several stupid state legislatures have decided to elevate some of the most powerful public servants in their jurisdictions to the status of “protected victim.” Never mind the reason most hate crime laws are enacted is to bring more power to the powerless — a (clumsy) way to address criminal acts predicated on hatred of someone’s race or sexual orientation. Police officers are neither a race nor a sexual orientation. There is no conscription involved in a law enforcement career. It’s strictly voluntary, unlike the personal traits involved in most hate crime laws.

It’s not as though there’s a lack of aggressive prosecution when officers are killed or injured. There’s never a shortage of charges to be brought or a dearth of zeal to see this criminal act punished. Many states already provide sentencing enhancements if the crime victim is a police officer. This bill simply gives the federal government the option to swoop in and punish certain criminals more harshly, ignoring any lack of “Blue Lives Matter” state statute.

It’s a stupid legislative proposition built on the ridiculous delusion that there’s a War on Cops being waged day in and day out when it’s really a lot of isolated incidents scattered across an ever-moving timeline. Being a cop in America is safe. Officers do not suffer for a lack of physical or legal protections. They are some of the most-protected individuals in this nation. A law like this is more than redundant and needlessly punitive. It’s an implicit message sent to all Americans, telling them their public servants — at least these ones — are better and more deserving of protection than they are.

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Comments on “Congressional Members Decide It's Time To Make Assaulting A Police Officer A Federal Hate Crime”

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67 Comments
tom (profile) says:

If this passes, “resisting arrest” just became a whole lot more serious.

Most of the ‘hate crime’ laws are IMO, BS anyway. What happened to “All men are created equal.”? I value my health and safety as much as the average Law Enforcement Officer, or Black or Gay or Jew. Yet a crime against one of the ‘special’ folk often carries a far greater penalty.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

This may be what it ‘appears’ to say, but through the magic of lawyering, ANY act that ends up impacting a police officer will attempt to have this charge ‘piled on’ to make sure they ‘teach em a lesson for messing with the defenders of the thin blue line (which is the only thing they actually defend these days)’

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Suppose a cop in uniform walks down the street, clubbing every second person he passes with his baton, and you stop him from clubbing you with it, and in the process give him an itty-bitty owie?

You injured him because he was a cop engaging in brutality and excessive force. Most jurors don’t grasp the concepts of actus rea and mens rea these days.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Mr. Mackey: Well, I hope you learned that throwing rocks at people is bad, Eric.

Cartman: Oh, I sure do, Mr. Mackey. I mean, I feel really bad, uhh. What was I thinking? The only thing I can do now… is try to go on and live day by day. See ya later.

Mr. Mackey: Not this time, Eric! You’ve got to learn to respect your little friends! You’re gonna have detention for two weeks!

Cartman: No way!
Mr. Mackey: Yes way! M’kay, and that settles it! Now, let’s all go- [the door opens and two suits enter]

Man 1: Counselor Mackey?

Mr. Mackey: Yes?

Man 1: I’m Agent Sharp and this is Agent Keen. We’re with the FBI.

Agent Keen: We’re here to investigate the rock-throwing incident.

Mr. Mackey: Nn-um. m’kay, uh, I’ve already taken care of it; Eric Cartman here is gonna be punished with two weeks of detention.

Agent Sharp: I’m afraid it’s a bit more complicated than that, Mr. School Counselor. You see, since the victim, in this case, is African-American, this is considered a hate crime.

Cartman: …What the hell is a hate crime?

Talmyr (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Cartman is hardly the poster boy for “innocent white boy hard done-by unfair laws protecting minorities”, especially as it’s hard to imagine him throwing rocks at a minority without accompanying insults.

Besides, throwing rocks at someone is assault, so certainly police could be involved. Wspecially those school police you employ to make sure all the black kids get shuffled efficiently into the school-jail pipeline, while the white kids learn that the police are there to call on black people they don’t like being in “their” public places, amirite?

YaToG says:

Law only seems necessary to protect cops acting like criminals.

Please define assault.

Police officer #1 trips suspect intentionally, causing suspect to “fall into” police officer #2, causing instant arrest under this law.

Talk about entrapment.

Cops where I live are well respected by most people, because they actually follow the law and treat everyone, including suspects with human dignity, humanely.

Yes, there are the one offs, but there aren’t masses of scared and pissed off people because the cops don’t just pull their guns because someone pops a balloon, or a car backfires. They also see to be able to identify the difference between a yellow and blaze-orange play gun and a real gun.

Anonymous Coward says:

hmmm good...

I love the smell of police state in the morning.

As we all rush to government to “rescue us from every little thing” they are only going to place themselves in greater authority over us.

SCOTUS has already made it clear that the police are not required to protect you from shit.

You can thank BOTH the gun control lobby for creating the “you don’t need a gun you need the police” mentality and the anti gun control lobby for the “respect my authority” mentality that foments bullshit laws like this!

The good old double gang-banging of the American citizens… entirely approved of by American citizens.

Every nation gets the government it deserves!

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: hmmm good...

So out of curiosity, other than whine constantly about how stupid everyone but yourself is, exactly what have you, The Chosen One, been doing to combat problems like this? Have you been calling your representatives to voice your opposition to problematic bills? Sending emails? Making sure to donate to groups that are fighting for your rights? Checking any pending bills to make sure you are up to date on proposed legislation such that nothing can slip past your eternal vigilance?

Inquiring minds want to know, what form has your ‘eternal vigilance’ taken that doesn’t involve leaving comments on TD?

Personanongrata says:

Idiots Rule*

Congressional Members Decide It’s Time To Make Assaulting A Police Officer A Federal Hate Crime

These bought/compromised fraction of American congress criminals posing as serious people have brought disgrace upon themselves and the nation while groveling upon their knees and licking badges in a foolish attempt to remove any measure of law enforcement accountability – Idiots!

*
Janes Addiction from the album "Nothing Shocking"

Idiots Rule

I got a lie, A fat fuckin’ lie, About a law, Idiots obey, They made it easy, Now cheaters have their way

You hi-di-ho’s, You’re living on your knees

Forget the rule! Oh – idiots rule! Forget the rule! Oh – idiots rule! Idiot!

Now there’s a time man… But i say non like now

There’s a time… Where idiots are bound

If there’s a pole Planted in your back Then you’re a fixture
You ain’t a man Forget the rule!

Oh – idiots rule Forget the rule!
Oh – idiots rule!

What’s this you mother fucker?
Fuck it! Suck it! Damn it! Ahh!

Idiots! Idiots rule! Idiots! Idiots rule! Idiots! Idiots rule!

You know that man You hate?
You look more like him Every day everyday

Hi-di-hos!

2 good shoes Won’t save your soul, yeah

Idiots rule! Idiots rule! Idiots rule!

Yeah!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ie3NinwlX6A&feature=related

That One Guy (profile) says:

"What do you mean I have to go really fast as a racecar driver?"

“In rural and urban areas alike, law enforcement officers face heightened risk every time they put on their uniforms,” Heitkamp said.

Yeah, no-one’s arguing that it’s a risk free job, but here’s the thing: The ones in it either knew that ahead of time that it carried risk and accepted that anyway, or they were so clueless that that fact flew completely over their head, and they need to quit immediately and let someone with a working brain take their position.

I face heightened risk every time I wake up and get out of bed. I face heightened risk every time I get in a car. Countless things cause ‘heightened risk’, if they can’t deal with a historically safe job because it carries anything higher than no risk then they most certainly have no business in a profession that carries extra risk and is already well protected by the laws.

This is yet another boot-licking, ‘All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal that others’ move that will widen the gap between the public and police once more, which, ironically enough, stands to make things even riskier for police.

YapplDappl says:

Re: Re: "What do you mean I have to go really fast as a racecar driver?"

wonders what would happen if we fomented our own continental congress and passed our own law stating that any cop caught/observed doing something suspicious is automatically guilty until proven innocent (since you can’t prove a negative, they’ll remain guilty), and will suffer the penalty a normal person would, multiplied by a factor of 10 because hey, they should know better.

I’d suggest making it a requirement that police officers have to actually know the laws that they are required to enforce. Written test, no computers or other electronics, closed room, no windows or doors, cameras with audio the entire time, monitored by external agency that gets paid (by the officer caught cheating) $15,000.00.

If they don’t actually know what the law says, than anyone arrested for breaking that law by that officer, gets off scott-free because you know, the cop didn’t know it was illegal or thought it was when it wasn’t.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: "What do you mean I have to go really fast as a racecar driver?"

Every person working form the govt. should have a gps in their car that automatically deducts $ from their bank account if they ever go over the speed limit. Also they should be required to blow a breathalyzer before starting their car.

Jeremy Lyman (profile) says:

Re: "What do you mean I have to go really fast as a racecar driver?"

“Widen the gap” is an important point. The public needs to feel protected by police, not scared of them. Frankly, for every extra protection afforded to officers, there should be additional penalties added for violating public trust. If you behaved atrociously enough to revoke your qualified immunity, the penalty for abusing these protections should make punishment double that of a civilian convicted of the same crime.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Pretty sure the number of people ending up dead or beaten after interaction with cops is much higher than the number of dead cops.

They know the job is dangerous…
A woman might knock on your window requiring lethal force.
A car might backfire requiring pursuit & 40+ bullets fired while standing on the hood of the car.
The house of an innocent person the warrant isn’t for might get uppity wondering why these jackbooted thugs broke in.
A baby might need to be flash banged for officer safety.
A dog might wag its tail in the vicinity of a cop requiring its execution.
A young officer might freak out & blow someone away in their panic & require being comforted before anyone seeks help for the person who was shot.
A driver might reach for his ID after being instructed to & be shot by a cop for following directions.
A body cam might be turned off or have the audio muted after a citizen is shot by a cop so they can get the story right.
A department might run a fucking black site that the CIA would be proud of torturing citizens until they admit to crimes to make the pain stop.
A department might steal millions in military gear handouts & just hand them out to various citizens around town.

But yes, please codify what a large percentage of the population already know… Cops are a special group who can do no wrong, can not be held responsible for their actions, and can repeatedly lie on the stand… but sure lets give them another law to use against critics or them uppity citizens who know their rights & the law.

Good faith exceptions.
Using stereotypes of demons to justify murder.
Abusing citizens.
Throwing them into paddy wagons & giving them a rough ride to teach them a lesson (or paralyze them for life).

Perhaps a better use of time & resources would have been a hate crime law protecting citizens from cops. I mean, we have the higher body count & we didn’t have to pad the numbers by including desk riding doughnut gobbling warriors who had a heart attack.

YaToG says:

Re: Re:

“A driver might reach for his ID after being instructed to & be shot by a cop for following directions.”

LMFTFY

“A fellow police officer, after saying he was a police officer, saying that he’s reaching, slowly, to get his wallet with his official ID in it, gets blown away by the cop who pulled him over so that he won’t get reported for the bogus stop he knew he’d done. Oh, and the officer’s wife and kids were in the car with him.”

TYG

Anonymous Coward says:

I had to go back and read the article again because of all the “OMG don’t even look wrong at a cop” rhetoric.

” Makes it a federal crime to knowingly cause bodily injury to any person, or attempt to do so, **because of** the actual or perceived status of the person as a law enforcement officer; “

Seems most overlooked those two words “because of”. I read that to mean that you attacked someone “because of” their race, religion, sexual orientation or they were a cop.

So it sounds like you have to have done more than just resist arrest for this to actually have any bearing on the charges.

I am not sure how anyone can make a “hate crime” case of anyone resting arrest. Of course it was some type of law enforcement involved when they were resisting/not complying because they didn’t want to get arrested, not because it was a cop.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I read that to mean that you attacked someone "because of" their race, religion, sexual orientation or they were a cop.

Ignoring the problem of lumping together a profession in with those other categories, the issue is that of ‘who determines why they ‘attacked’ the cop?’ Because you can bet that any prosecutor looking to pad the charges will argue that of course they defendant caused bodily harm because the other person was a cop.

They knew they were a cop and yet they did X anyway, clearly it was because they were a cop that caused the response. Arresting someone is something only a cop(or government agent) would so, the ‘assault’ took place because of the attempted arrest, so clearly it was because of something a cop was doing that the assault took place.

At that point it would be up to the defendant to somehow ‘prove’ that the claimed or actual bodily harm had absolutely nothing to do with the profession of the other person, and it was entirely by coincidence that they happened to be a member of that profession.

Anonymous Coward says:

so it’s gonna be a ‘hate crime’ to do anything to a police officer and, i assume punishable by a gazillion years in prison, but they can carry on killing unarmed civilians (including 15 year old boys, wearing ear plugs while driving a quad, presenting no danger to anyone), without any reason and get 2 months paid holiday for doing it, the praise of the local DA and slaps on the back by fellow uniforms! what a fucking country the USA has become!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

You make fun now, but wait for the next law, the ratchet only goes one way… UP, UP, UP

Next it will be a federal crime to look ‘sternly’ or ‘meanly’ at a cop, or to say anything that might be considered disrespectful.

Citizen to Officer: Hello fellow citizen
Officer: I’m an officer of the law, not a citizen, I find that disrespectful and am sentencing you to 2 years hard labor in the USAA (used to be USA, but was bought out by the MPAA/RIAA, so they renamed it USAA) social media farm (trolling Russians isn’t as much fun as it sounds…)

Anonymous Coward says:

Not every bump

Anything from an aborted fist swing to an accidental bump can be turned into an assault charge

Hang on a second. I agree the bill is unneeded, but it’s not quite that bad. The bill only applies if someone "knowingly causes serious bodily injury to a law enforcement officer, or attempts to do so". That doesn’t cover every bump or intentionally aborted swing that might be assault under other laws.

It also needs a federal nexus. Sometimes that’s going to be easily satisfied (like if you’re pulled over on an interstate highway) but sometimes that’s simply not going to apply.

Narcissus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Not every bump

The problem here is the plea deal system, combined with the stacking mentioned in the article.

If you’re arrested for something minor and during the arrest something happens that might conceivably be construed as bodily injury if you look at it sideways with your eyes seriously squinted. That’s not even considering how the incident is reported if there are no witnesses except cops.

So what do you do (guilty or innocent) if they offer you a plea deal for 6 months in jail versus the potential risk of going to prison for 10 years plus? You’ll take the deal or you will trust the public defender to get you off, even though they added 98 cases to his workload just this week?

As per usual if you can afford proper legal representation this law will not affect you much, probably.

Anonymous Coward says:

Reciprocal Law

If the US Congress can pass the PSA such that assaulting a police officer may be considered a “hate crime”, what then of all those (unarmed/innocent) victims of police shootings?

Do they qualify as victims of “genocide” ?
Will the International Criminal Court hear a charge of “crimes against humanity” levied against the police officers? Against the Government officials how passed this bill?

Seems like a fair and measured response to a (P)retty (S)tupid (A)ct of hyperbole.

Anonymous Coward says:

Let me guess – you could be charged with a cop hate crime if you accidentally get some of your blood on an officers uniform. In addition, you could be charged a second time for causing damage to the officer’s boots by smashing your head into same. We have to protect the uniform from hate, what does this do to or for the non-uniformed cops? Many times cops will bust in – unannounced – not in uniform – acting like criminals about to murder everyone … and they deserver protection because everyone knows they are cops – brilliant!

Anonymous Coward says:

inch by inch...

as the ‘thin’ blue line gets bigger and bigger, what’s left for the rest of us? Since when is being persecuted by a police officer grounds for federal charges (which is where this will end up in no time at all)…

You step over the thin blue line, WE END YOU (this is the officers shooting civilians, not a threat against officers…)

Spokan1 says:

Assault on a state trooper

I did a bad years ago and got a DUI charge. No prior record but during my arrest I ended up with a assault charge on the trooper. I have PTSD because of being beaten and rapped so I freaked out a little when he grabbed me but my excuse didn’t hold up in court even with my PTSD Dr’s papers. He said I kicked him. This was almost 8 years ago. Well the other day I got beaten up by my bf nephews girl friend thats 20 years younger than me at a family gathering when everyone was sleeping. She called the police but since I have that 3erd degree assault the cops only arrested me. Everyone said they didn’t hear anything. She said I broke a bottle over her head. No glass no cuts. Nothing / My eye was back and blue closed shut I have bruises all over my body and I went to the hospital and jail. Im looking at another 3erd degree assault charge. The girl never went to the hospital no mark on her and no evidence and no witnesses that I touched her. I think they took me based on that assault charge on a trooper years ago. I’m going to file a wrongful arrest and press charges on her for assault. I’m mortified and terrified of the police now.

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