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Police Union Requests Protection Under Hate Crime Law

Police Union Requests Protection Under Hate Crime Law

The National Fraternal Order of Police asked President Barack Obama and Congressional leaders to expand the Congressional hate crimes statute to include crimes against police officers. This request followed the murder of two New York City police officers, reported Yahoo News (1.5.15).

The union argued that violence against police officers motivated by anti-police bias should be prosecuted as a hate crime. To make his argument, Jim Pasco, the executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police compared the color of skin to the color of a uniform. The group has long lobbied for harsher punishment for those who harm law enforcement officers. The union has more than 300,000 members.

The NYPD officers killed were Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu. They were shot while in their squad card by Ismaaiyl Brinsley. The gunman posted anti-police messages on social media. He also boasted about wanting to murder police just hours before he ambushed the officers.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the task force on policing convened by President Barack Obama would consider the hate crimes idea.

Hate crime (also known as bias crime) is defined by Congress as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.” If local authorities decline to prosecute a hate crime, the federal government can do so.

The 1969 federal hate crimes statute has been expanded before. Sexual orientation and disability were added to the law by Congress in 2009. Crimes that are considered hate crimes means harsher penalties for offenders. Under federal law, there is no maximum penalty for violent hate crimes resulting in death. Forty-one states, including New York, plus Washington D.C., have hate-crime laws. According to FBI statistics, the majority of hate crimes are motivated by racial bias.

In New York, hate crimes are defined because their victims were targeted due to their real or perceived race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation. Hate crime statistics from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program show that there were 715 hate crimes reported in New York State in 2012.

A victim of a hate crime may be eligible to receive compensation and should contact an experienced civil rights lawyer.

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