New 'Blue Lives Matter' laws raise concerns among activists
JEFFERSON CITY - More than a dozen states this year have passed "Blue Lives Matter" laws that come down even harder on crimes against law enforcement officers. The new laws came in reaction to a spike in deadly attacks on police last year.
Some civil rights activists say the measures could set back community relations with police. They fear the laws could also undermine the Black Lives Matter movement aimed at curbing the use of deadly force against black people by police.
Nearly all states already have some laws enhancing penalties for violent crimes against law officers.
The new measures impose even tougher punishments, extend them to additional offenses, including some nonviolent ones, and expand the list of victims covered to include off-duty officers and police relatives.
Here's a look at those measures:
Expands the crime of aggravated assault against on-duty officers to also apply to off-duty peace officers not engaged in police activities, and adds offenses committed maliciously against peace officers as grounds for enhanced sentences. SB 1366 , entitled the "Blue Lives Matter Law," signed April 17 by Gov. Doug Ducey.
Creates enhanced penalties for offenses targeting current or former law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical providers, prosecutors, corrections officers and code enforcement officers, or their family members. HB 1172 signed March 3 by Gov. Asa Hutchison. Expands the scope of the crime of aggravated assault on a law enforcement or correctional officer and enhances the penalties. SB 20 signed March 3 by Hutchison.
Increases mandatory minimum prison penalties for assault or battery against public safety officers and for repeat offenses of resisting or obstructing officers. Also imposes new fines, which fund payments to families of officers who die in the line of duty. SB 160 , entitled the "Back the Badge Act of 2017," signed May 8 by Gov. Nathan Deal.
Creates enhanced penalties for non-drug felonies committed against on-duty law enforcement officers or when the offender knows the victim is a law officer. SB 112 signed May 5 by Gov. Sam Brownback.
Adds employment as a peace officer, firefighter and emergency medical services provider to an existing list of qualities such as race, religion and sexual orientation for which enhanced penalties can be pursued for offenses committed as hate crimes. HB 14 signed March 20 by Gov. Matt Bevin.
Adds employment as a law enforcement officer, firefighter and emergency medical services provider to an existing list of qualities such as race, age, gender, religion, disability or sexual orientation for which enhanced penalties can be pursued for offenses committed as hate crimes. HB 953 signed May 26, 2016, by Gov. John Bel Edwards.
Creates enhanced penalties for misdemeanor or felony crimes that target people because of their employment as law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians - similar to enhancements already in place for crimes committed for such reasons as race, religion and gender. HB 645 , entitled "The Blue, Red and Med Lives Matter Act," signed March 24 by Gov. Phil Bryant.
Adds the crimes of involuntary manslaughter, stalking, property damage and trespassing to those carrying enhanced penalties when committed against law enforcement officers or their family members.