NJ Legislator Wants State's Cops to Be The New Beneficiaries of Hate Crime/Bias Laws

by Tim Cushing
Techdirt
Oct. 14, 2015

You know what group of the public just hasn't been given enough protections? Law enforcement officers.

To date, all they have is:

• The power to enforce laws as they interpret them, even when said law doesn't actually exist
Qualified immunity
• "Exigent circumstances" justifications for acts of violence, civil rights violations
• A multitude of weaponry, both lethal and sometimes-lethal
• Strong union representation
Law enforcement-only bills of (extra) rights
• The constant benefit of a doubt
Mine-resistant work vehicles
• "Shoot first, be questioned 48-72 hours later after viewing all available evidence" policies
Massive political clout

It's not enough. It's dangerous out there for cops these days.* So, in the interest of making things even safer for our underprotected boys/girls in blue, a New Jersey politician is introducing legislation that would fold cops in to the state's "hate speech/bias" laws.

* It isn't.
In New Jersey it is a bias intimidation crime when one person threatens another based on race, religion, color, gender, sexual orientation, disability or gender identity. Police officers are not currently protected under the statute, but one Garden State lawmaker said they should be.

He said that threats against a cop should be taken as seriously as the crime that often follows that threat.

“Legislation that I am proposing would expand the bias intimidation/hate speech statute to include law enforcement officers. There needs to be consequences for threatening to target and kill a law enforcement officer,” said Assemblyman Ron Dancer (R-Jackson).
There are consequences, which Dancer seems to have forgotten. True threats and killing law enforcement officers is already illegal under current New Jersey laws. What Dancer wants to do is give a historically well-protected group additional protections meant for historically less-protected citizens.

This sort of cop-favoring legislation is nothing new for Dancer.
Dancer already introduced another bill (A-3611) that would expand the definition of a terroristic threat to include threatening to kill a police officer.
Once again, issuing terroristic threats is already a crime. There's no need to specifically add police officers to the statute… unless you're like Dancer and believe the copacalypse is upon us, powered by hashtags and the general feeling that people just don't love cops the way they used to.
“The recent ambushes and assassinations of our law enforcement officers simply because they wear a blue uniform, that demands action. I recognize and respect that freedom of speech is a constitutional right, but when someone is threatening to kill our law enforcement officers there needs to be strict penalties,” Dancer said.
And there are strict penalties! Uttering terroristic threats is punishable by 3-5 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Dancer wants threatening cops to be a more severe criminal act than threatening any other citizen. His proposal would make threatening cops a second degree crime, with penalties increasing to 5-10 years/$150,000 fine, along with the presumption of incarceration. (Third degree crimes often result in non-custodial sentences like probation.)

Dancer has also proposed an automatic death penalty for killing law enforcement officers, again citing the (nonexistent) War on Cops.
“While irresponsible groups promote rhetoric that threatens police officers, it is crucial we support our peace keepers,” Dancer said. “We need a strong deterrent for targeting our men and women behind the badge.”
Worse than Dancer's fear-based, fact-free bloviating is the additional commentary of Kevin McArdle, who wrote the story for NJ101.
Cops could use all the protection they can get. According the Officer Down Memorial Page 26 police officers have been shot and killed in the line of duty in 2015...
Statistics show that the current pace for killed cops will put the number at 35 by year's end, the second-lowest total in almost six decades. Cops don't need more protection. The perception has changed, but the number of deaths is historically low. Cops are safer than they've been since the mid-1950's, back in the good old days of Sheriff Andy Griffith and the possible peak of the public's worship of law enforcement officers. The only thing taking a beating these days (other than tons of "civilians") is law enforcement's public image. And despite high-profile police-involved shootings being swiftly followed by high-profile protests, cops are still being "targeted" and killed at an incredibly low rate.

Adding prison time and fines to existing penalties solely because of the target's profession is just more favoritism that places cops further above the people they serve. It's stupid and it does nothing to address the so-called "war on cops," which at this point, is still 99% misperception and 100% misinformation.













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