Blue lives matter bill heads to Gov. Bevin

03/07/2017 10:15 PM

FRANKFORT – A bill making the targeting of first responders a hate crime has passed the Senate and now goes to the desk of Gov. Matt Bevin.

House Bill 14, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Bratcher, R-Louisville, provides additional legal protections for police officers, firefighters, and EMT personnel by adding offenses committed against an individual because of their status as a first responder to existing hate crimes statutes.

If enacted, anyone who attacks first responders could face an additional finding of a hate crime. It would give judges more discretion when it comes to denying probation and the same in parole board decisions.

Louisiana is currently the only state to extend hate crime protections to first responders.

Sen. Reggie Thomas, D-Lexington, was one of five Democrats who voted against the bill saying that he felt that the hidden purpose of the legislation was to squash protests of incidents when unarmed blacks are shot by law enforcement personnel.

“I don’t think it’s an issue when a mother or a father or a sister learns that their son has been murdered in a execution style killing, unarmed, lying dead just because he was black,” Thomas said. “I think we give short shrift to that in this body, in this legislature, when we ignore the fact that for century, for century, over decades and decades, those kinds of events have happened in this country over and over and over and over again. I think today we take a step back when you look at this legislature and you’ve seen who has supported it and who has opposed it.”

Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard, supported the legislation saying that it’s simply all about punishing persons who attack law enforcement, fire, and EMT personnel to the fullest extent.

“We can’t get lost in what people are trying to make the politics of this,” Smith said. “I don’t know when it became political to say if you murder an officer who’s sitting in his car talking to his family on the phone, that that’s OK to do that. Murdering somebody that’s in service to this state or this country, because you don’t agree with their politics or you’re mad about some issue is wrong”

Rep. Bratcher released the following statement after passage of his bill:

“In the wake of brutal killing against law enforcement across the country, it is vital that we do everything in our power to look out for those who serve and protect us,” Bratcher said. “I am pleased that the Senate recognizes the importance of doing this, and hope that other states will follow our actions and enact these protections.”

The legislation now heads to Gov. Matt Bevin for his review.


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