California: Attacks on police officer as Hate Crime

2016 is considered by many as a terrible year. And whether they exaggerated or not, at least for police officers, it was a really difficult year. Thanks to social movements such Black Lives Matter, the police forces were labeled as abusive institutions and their members were victims of violent attacks. Last year, The LA Times reported, 62 police officers died, 38 more than 2015. State Assemblyman Jay Obernolte has proposed a bill that would consider an  attack on police officers as a hate crime in California in order that stronger penalties would decrease targeting law enforcers.

The Assemblyman commented

“Our police officers put their lives on the line every day and it’s deeply disturbing when they are intentionally targeted because of their chosen profession…This law will send a message to criminals targeting law enforcement officers that their reprehensible behavior will not be tolerated.”

According to current California law, hate crimes are those committed because of race, religion, disability or sexual orientation.

This new measure would increase the offender’s sentences up to three years.

Some groups such the America Civil Liberties Union, believe that crime against police officer should not be treated as hate crimes because that term was created to protect vulnerable classes

Kevin Baker, legislative director with the ACLU of California’s Center for Advocacy and Policy, stated there are already laws strong enough that punish those who hurt a police officer. He added,

 “Our hate crime statute is simply not the proper home for these offenses … Peace officer status is an employment category not analogous to the personal characteristics included in our hate crime statute, including disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation.”

Although some believe that labeling those attacks as hate crime is too much, it is important to remember the five police officers were attacked in July only because of their uniform. So, hopefully, Obernolte’s bill will be passed soon and help to decrease the number of victims this 2017.

Read more at The LA Times

Maria Robles is a recent graduate from New Jersey City University. She believes that everyone should be informed about current issues affecting our society.