So-called "Blue Lives Matter" bills are springing up around the country, and could effectively give police the same type of hate crime protection as racial, religious and LGBTQ minorities.
Legislators in 14 states have introduced 32 bills to include law enforcement in hate crime protections; the bills would go further than hate crime laws by not requiring prosecutors to prove a motive.
However, the proposed bills may not be needed because of existing laws.
"In the vast majority of states, you will get life or considerably less in prison for murder, but if you murder a police officer, you are almost certain to get death," Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said. "So the truth is that including police in hate crime laws is merely a political statement -- and an unnecessary one at that."
Police supporters created the Blue Lives Matter movement as a push back to the previously established Black Lives Matter movement, which highlighted police abuse of minorities.
In 2015, Chuck Canterbury, who heads the Fraternal Order of Police union, called for law enforcement to be included in federal hate crime laws, which protect "actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability:"
Congress saw a need to expand the law to protect a group of our fellow citizens who we suspected were being targeted as victims of violence. In the last few years, ambush attacks aimed to kill or injure law enforcement officers have risen dramatically.
Nineteen percent of the fatalities by firearm suffered by law enforcement in 2014 were ambush attacks. Enough is enough! It’s time for Congress to do something to protect the men and women who protect us.
Some widely publicized attacks on police in 2015 and 2016 reportedly fueled the "war on cops" narrative and the Blue Lives Matter movement. Fox News hosts and their guests suggested Black Lives Matter was encouraging attacks against law enforcement and might be a hate group, notes The Huffington Post.
In May 2016, the FBI released a report that found 41 police officers were intentionally killed in 2015, which was a drop from the 51 cops killed in 2014. The FBI report for 2016 has not yet been released, but the unofficial number of cops killed is reportedly 64.
Jack Levin, a criminologist at Northeastern University, told The Huffington Post that police are safer now than they have been in decades:
Police officers are doing better as victims of crime than they have for many decades. This is, hopefully, a short-term blip and not a trend. If we see that the number of ambushes of police officers continues to rise, then it may be worth taking another look at the possibility of including them in hate crime laws.