Texas Governor Latest To Ask For A 'Hate Crime' Law That Covers Attacks On Cops

from the red-tape-around-a-blue-line dept

Yet another politician can be added to the list of people who think police officers just don't have enough protections as is. Following in the footsteps of legislators in New Jersey and Minnesota -- along with Rep. Ken Buck (CO) -- Texas governor Greg Abbott has decided it's time to treat attacking officers as a "hate crime."

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) wants the targeted killing of a police officer to be deemed a hate crime in Texas and urged lawmakers to send him such a bill to sign during next year’s legislative session.

Abbott announced Monday his plan to lobby for adding his Police Protection Act to Texas law. Along with extending hate-crime protections to law enforcement, the measure would also increase criminal penalties for any crimes in which the victim is a law enforcement officer and “create a culture of respect for law enforcement by organizing a campaign to educate young Texans on the value law enforcement officers bring to their communities,” according to a statement from Abbott’s office.

Nothing "creates a culture of respect" like handing beneficiaries of a host of "extra rights" even more protection in the form of stiffer penalties just because the victim was wearing a certain uniform. As Fault Line's JoAnne Musick points out, "hate crime" laws are generally enacted to provide greater protections for historically underprotected classes, not those already in positions of power.

Are police an otherwise vulnerable group? Is violence against an officer intended to hurt or intimidate the entire police community? Are crimes against officers underreported and in need of encouragement to prosecute them? Plain and simple, the answers are no. Police are not particularly more vulnerable. In fact, they are better trained and greater equipped to protect each other and themselves. Crimes against police are rarely underreported. They are most definitely heavily prosecuted – as they should be. So, why is there a need to create a special class?

The Dallas shooting that left five officers dead is the only reason this call for legislation even exists. It's a kneejerk reaction that shifts even more power to the powerful. It's sure to gather support from legislators because who could possibly be opposed to punishing cop killers? Add to that the further consolidation of power it represents and there's very little chance someone won't run this up the legislative flagpole. After all, the governor himself is calling for legislation, so it's guaranteed to become law if it hits his desk. That's an easy win -- something legislators like almost as much as jingoism and "tough on crime" posturing.

Rather than address the issues that have led to this (seeming) flashpoint (despite the recent murders of police officers, numbers are still on track for another "normal" year in on-duty officer deaths), politicians like Abbott have decided to give law enforcement yet another tool to use to significantly harm anyone who doesn't immediately comply with their commands. And this is in a state that already adds years to sentences if the crime victim is a police officer.

[A] simple assault is a class A misdemeanor carrying a punishment of up to one year in jail; however a simple assault against a police officer is a third degree felony punishable up to 10 years in prison.

That's the current law. Abbott wants something above and beyond this. Simple assault, under current Texas law, includes simply threatening someone or "provocatively" making physical contact. Push back when being arrested? That's assault. Accidentally bump an officer's elbow while attempting to comply with a frisk? Assault. The law already encourages prosecutors to pile on. This would make it even worse.

The underlying issues, which have prompted a horrifically violent reaction, aren't going to be mitigated by giving law enforcement and prosecutors even more leverage. Greg Prickett -- a 20-year veteran of law enforcement -- points out that the current miserable state of affairs can't be blamed on anything other than law enforcement's own actions over the past few decades. According to Prickett, this is what's prompted the shooting of law enforcement officers.

It’s simple, really. It is militarization of the police coupled with a lack of accountability for their actions.

Law enforcement has shifted away from being an integral part of the communities they serve and opted instead to view themselves as an occupying force in a war zone. The weapons and vehicles are repurposed military gear. Officers' training goes heavy on force deployment. Very rarely are tactics like de-escalation or actual community-oriented policing given any priority. While there's no condoning the actions of people who kill cops, the reality is that law enforcement itself has shown over the years that its preferred method of communication is violence. It's the only thing it truly understands.

Governor Abbott may think he can reverse this course by throwing more prison time at certain criminals, but it's not going to stop people from killing cops. All it's really going to do is give officers and prosecutors a way to inflict maximum pain for the most minimal injury or perceived slight.

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Filed Under: cops, greg abbott, hate crime, police shootings, texas


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  • icon
    DB (profile), 22 Jul 2016 @ 1:12pm

    Great idea! Now Texas will finally have a law that will allow them to prosecute the Dallas shooter!

    (Did I miss something?)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 22 Jul 2016 @ 1:12pm

    You're doing it wrong

    the measure would also increase criminal penalties for any crimes in which the victim is a law enforcement officer and “create a culture of respect for law enforcement by organizing a campaign to educate young Texans on the value law enforcement officers bring to their communities,”

    Respect isn't something you teach, it's something you earn, and if more and more people don't respect police it's because they've shown that they're not worthy of respect.

    If he wants to 'create a culture of respect for law enforcement' then he needs to start with law enforcement. Actual accountability, real oversight, equal treatment under the law... giving an already highly 'protected' group even more special treatment is not going to increase anything but resentment and disrespect, and rightly so, 'education' or not.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2016 @ 3:59pm

      Re: You're doing it wrong

      Reminds me of cognitive dissonance from schools where they would state "respect is earned not given" and then promply proceed to demand respect from students and tar everyone with the same brush.

      I guess the message that respect is earned goes right over the heads of those who believe they are entitled to it in the first place.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 22 Jul 2016 @ 6:16pm

        Re: Re: You're doing it wrong

        It's a strange mindset from my point of view, and unfortunately one that tends to be fairly common, but far too many people think that a position or uniform is enough to 'earn' respect.

        (Personally I don't care what uniform and/or badge someone has, I care what they do while they're wearing and/or carrying it. Actions, not outfits or accessories are what make a person worthy or not worthy of respect.)

        In the situation of schools I imagine they think that simply being teachers/principals is enough to make them worthy of respect, with no actions beyond that needed, so from their mindset they already have 'earned' the respect they demand from the students, which simply isn't the case.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Jul 2016 @ 9:04am

      If you can't earn respect, then instill fear.

      Seems to be the police operating principle.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 23 Jul 2016 @ 9:21am

        Re: If you can't earn respect, then instill fear.

        Perhaps, but it looks to me like the police, as with far too many authoritarians, can't tell the difference between fear and respect.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Jul 2016 @ 11:59am

        Re: If you can't earn respect, then instill fear.

        It is much harder to "earn" respect than to "instill" fear. Which would you expect a bunch of lazy thugs to choose?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2016 @ 1:18pm

    As if wearing a bulletproof vest, carrying at least 1 if not more sidearms, billy club, pepper spray, possibly an assault rifle, self-defense training, a radio to call in more similarly equipped cops, and a full arsenal of who-the-fuck-knows-what-else in the trunk isn't protection enough.

    Now they need protected status as well?

    How fragile are these "heroes" anyways?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Padpaw (profile), 22 Jul 2016 @ 8:42pm

      Re:

      they demand respect, when they don't get it they turn violent. This may protect their feelings from getting hurt and hurting someone else in retaliation

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Jul 2016 @ 8:34am

      Mad Max

      You obviously don't know the dangers the police face on a daily basis. You need to watch the movie Mad Max sometime to educate yourself.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2016 @ 1:19pm

    Texan here...

    This fucking sucks!

    While I generally agree with many things regarding Abbott, I definitely HATE the republican party platform on turning American into a muthafukin POLICE STATE!!!!

    If the Democrats would stop importing Death to America culture I could see myself voting democrat, but holy fucking shit!

    So the choice is... Destroy America by immigration with Hillary or
    Destroy America by Police State with Donald...
    Then again... the democrats are pro police state too! I constantly have to wonder why blacks keep voting for the very people telling them which party they should belong too just because they are black.

    I would never support a Texit while this bastard is in office!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2016 @ 1:21pm

    This coming from a group that says any crime is a hate crime. How do they square this with their own rhetoric?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2016 @ 1:23pm

    Why not just deputize everyone? That way, no one can commit any crime. And we'd all get free coffee.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2016 @ 1:26pm

      Re:

      Someone has to wear the handcuffs, if we don't make the government wear them... they WILL take them off and put them on us.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2016 @ 1:28pm

    Any self respecting police officer should be offended that they are being held to a lower standard than the rest of us. Any proposals to pass legislation that holds them to an even lower standard should be considered an insult and a disgrace to police officers for accusing them of being lower than the rest of us. No no no, if anything, police should be held to a higher standard and they should consider it an honor to be held to a higher standard.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2016 @ 1:32pm

    When will these persecuted careers get hate crime protections

    All this talk about hate crime protections for cops because of their jobs lately. Yet no one talks about hate crime protections for the few careers that you could actually justify it for by pointing out a history of public hatred/attacks on people of those careers.

    Those careers include:

    -Abortion Doctors (Some of whom have been murdered for their career, including Dr. George Tiller who was assassinated in a church. Others face death threats or threats of violence, and some abortion doctors even have guards on their staff to protect them because they feel the danger to their life & their business's property justifies it)

    -Lawyers & IRS agents (The two most widely hated careers in the US, that always make it on lists of worst people by professions no matter who writes the list. If so many people hate them for their job, you could argue they might be targets of violence much more then most careers because of their job)

    -Politicians (Some of whom have also been murdered for their career, including Presidents of the US)

    Yet I see NO ONE rushing to give hate crime protections to those few careers that can demonstrate actual discrimination or danger due to their career. Because of course those careers are unpopular, so hate crime protections for them would be unpopular, but cops aren't unpopular, which just proves the point of why hate crime protections aren't needed for them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Jul 2016 @ 2:46am

      Re: When will these persecuted careers get hate crime protections

      Not so sure about the last two. Bearing in mind what would happen if policemen got hate crime protection, the amount of power and backlash that lawyers, IRS agents and politicians would inflict on anyone and everyone is nothing short of staggering.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 22 Jul 2016 @ 1:33pm

    Gaining respect is easy

    All you have to do is have a history of acting in a respectable manner. Also, there is no other method that works.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Simon, 22 Jul 2016 @ 1:33pm

    Plus the police force are one of the most victimized communities so come down heavy on those bastards who "simply" assault them

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    I.T. Guy, 22 Jul 2016 @ 1:49pm

    Where's the hate crime legislation for bad cops? Once again, cops get more protection than the citizens they are supposed to protect.

    Just look here:
    http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/07/22/487027848/north-miami-officer-was-aiming-at-m an-with-autism-union-chief-says

    "It was only much later, Rivera said, that the officers realized two important facts: that the man next to Kinsey has autism, and that he did not have a gun."

    Well maybe before you go blasting, Rambo, you should KNOW if he had a gun or not. THIS is the problem. Cops are such pussies nowadays, and apparently a poor marksman too. One guy (Kinsey) was on the ground, on his back with his hands up, the other guy, with autism, was sitting in the street playing with a truck:

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/miami-police-officer-identified-shooting-black-therap ist-article-1.2721929

    Cops are cowards anymore.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2016 @ 4:51pm

    The us vs them mindset has to go.

    Whomever purported that narrative needs to stripped of power and influence. The last thing I want to see in my own country is for officers of the law follow a misappropriated purpose

    It's bad enough that there's America's the posterchild for firearms, nevermind the an adult can can aquire one. If all this back and forth tension keeps escalating, it'll eventually reach a point where it's the people vs the government.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 22 Jul 2016 @ 5:02pm

    This is only going to become another tool used BY officers to oppress civilians.

    And that will only escalate the hostility between the police and the civilian population.

    In Texas, I imagine it is a well armed civilian population.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    art guerrilla (profile), 22 Jul 2016 @ 5:03pm

    blue legs good...

    black,
    brown,
    yellow,
    red,
    white legs bad ! ! !

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 22 Jul 2016 @ 8:35pm

    like what spain did then

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Alya, 23 Jul 2016 @ 8:21am

    "occupying force in a war zone"

    This starts at the very top of the government. They often even openly use the word "war" to describe domestic law enforcement, so what should we expect other than a militarized police force acting as if it is an occupying force?

    Nixon formally declared a "war on drugs".

    The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.
    — John Ehrlichman, Nixon White House Domestic Affairs Advisor, on the War on drugs in a Harper's Magazine interview in 1994

    War, indeed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jul 2016 @ 10:22am

    A Lone Voice of Sanity

    Greg Prickett's, "It is militarization of the police coupled with a lack of accountability for their actions," laudably refreshing and plainly correct as it is, stands isolated in a sea of Fascist cop-aganda. The majority of cops and their bosses are screaming, "Blue Lives Matter."

    In related news: more cops die. (rinse, lather, repeat)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    k-h, 24 Jul 2016 @ 1:10am

    So what legal punishment would be worse than ...

    what they do now, which is summary execution?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jul 2016 @ 7:19am

    So they keep escalation of violence on both sides till they realize it will not work. Social change cannot be legislated like that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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