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Gov. Landry signs bill mandating public stay 25 feet away from law enforcement officers

3 weeks 3 days 23 hours ago Tuesday, May 28 2024 May 28, 2024 May 28, 2024 9:27 PM May 28, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - In the package of bills Gov. Jeff Landry signed Tuesday, one makes it a crime to stand within 25 feet of a law enforcement officer if they ask you to stand back.

Landry says the measure aims to keep officers safe while they are working. Republican State Representative Bryan Fontenot carried HB173 through the capitol and to the governor’s desk. 

“I think you see across America that violence on police officers continues to rise, and it was a delicate balance of finding a safe distance for police officers to be able to do their job both for them and the person they are (effecting) an arrest on,” Fontenot said.

Any person who doesn’t follow the law could spend 60 days behind bars or pay a $500 fine.

While the bill doesn’t actually address recording police officers, critics like Rep. Edmond Jordan, D-Baton Rouge, says the distance requirement could make it harder to monitor police.

“If you have to be 25 feet away, you're not going to be able to help bring some type of change. You need to see and be able to report,” Jordan said. “I just think it's a bad law. I think we need to challenge it. I think we need to fight it.”

Fontenot says the similar legislation has passed across the county. In 2023, Gov. John Bel Edwards rejected a similar bill saying it was unconstitutional. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a statement responding to the law’s signing:

“The twenty-five-foot buffer legislation fundamentally seeks to curtail Louisianians' ability to hold police accountable for violence and misconduct. If law enforcement officers were operating in a manner that safeguarded the well-being and constitutional rights of the public, there should be no objection to being observed. Moreover, HB 173 is impractical to enforce consistently and will exacerbate tensions in any situation involving law enforcement. We denounce the passage and signing of this legislation and urge our communities to stay vigilant and safe in response to these developments.”

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