Legislation that would make it a hate crime to target law enforcement officers and firefighters because of their occupation has been proposed in Louisiana.
House Bill 953 would amend the state’s hate crimes law to include attacks made against police officers and firefighters. It will apply to regularly employed and volunteer firefighters, as well as an active or retired city, parish or state law enforcement officer, peace officer, sheriff, deputy sheriff, probation or parole officer, marshal, deputy, wildlife enforcement agent, state correctional officer, a commissioned agent of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections and any other federal law enforcement officer or employee who is involved in making arrests, serving warrants, enforcing penal or traffic laws or supervising inmates.
Louisiana considers a hate crime to be offenses against a person or property because of race, age, gender, religion, color, creed, disability, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry.
“We have a pretty extensive hate crime law right now, but I believe we should add firefighters and policemen,” Republican State Rep. Lance Harris, who proposed the legislation, told The Advocate.
Some residents of Louisiana support the “Blue Lives Matter“ measure, even though critics find attacks made based on an individual’s occupation should not be considered hate crimes.
“You never know if he’s coming home,” Dionna Nelson, whose father was a police officer, told KLFY. “His life was always on the line. There’s just too many police officers being killed, and firefighters and first responders being killed in the line of duty. There’s just no sense for it.”
Currently, those convicted of a hate crime in Louisiana receive up to an additional six months in prison for misdemeanor offenses, a maximum fine of $500 or both, according to the bill. A felony hate crime offense carries an additional sentence of up to five years, a fine of no more than $5,000 or both.
The “Blue Lives Matter” bill will be sent to the full House and Senate for a decision on whether it will be enacted.