In 2016, a series of high-profile, officer-involved shootings made the law enforcement community the focus of an intense national debate.
Now, Kentucky lawmakers have joined a growing trend that makes an attack on a first responder among the most heinous crimes that can be committed — a move that, as Fox News notes, has not been without its own wave of controversy.Image Credit: Getty Images/David McNew
The “Blue Lives Matter” bill — which Governor Matt Bevin (R-KY) signed into law this week, but that won’t take effect until July — will make an attack on any first responder nothing short of a “hate crime.”
As State Rep. Kevin Bratcher (R-KY), the man who first proposed the bill, put it:
“If you’re going to mess with our finest, the men and women in blue, firefighters and EMTs, then you’re gonna get the full brunt of Kentucky law.”
With the signing of the law, Kentucky became the second state to enact such protections for first responders.
For some, though, the signing of the bill signals a step in the wrong direction:
— ACLU of Kentucky (@ACLUofKY) March 9, 2017
As Chanelle Helm, a Louisville Black Lives Matter chapter organizer, argues:
“They hate us so much that they need hate crime protection.
So underneath this law now, they get hate crime protection as if anybody’s out here targeting them.”
The Kentucky ACLU has expressed a similar opinion, telling Rewire in an emailed statement that the bill “misunderstands the very purpose of hate crimes — to protect communities that have been marginalized within our society and who are at a higher risk of facing violence simply because of an immutable characteristic they share.”
— Rewire.News (@Rewire_News) March 24, 2017
Despite such pushback, it appears that support for these “Blue Laws Matter” laws is growing on a national level.
Since the start of 2017, there have been 32 bills introduced across 14 different states that seek to “extend hate crime protections to police officers and other members of law enforcement.”
For what it’s worth, it seems this isn’t a partisan issue, either — in most instances, the bills have enjoyed the support of state Democrats and Republicans alike.