Arizona Signs ‘Blue Lives Matter’ Law to Send the Message That It Backs Law Enforcement

In 2016, Governor John Bel Edwards (D-LA) signed the “Blue Lives Matter” bill. According to The Washington Post, the law classified public safety workers as a protected class under hate-crime law.

Which means, anyone who specifically targets a firefighter, police officer, or any emergency medical services personnel because of the uniform they wear will face even harsher punishments than before. The Post reported that Edwards said in a statement:

The men and women who put their lives on the line every day, often under very dangerous circumstances are true heroes and they deserve every protection that we can give them. They serve and protect our communities and our families. The overarching message is that hate crimes will not be tolerated in Louisiana.

While Louisiana may have been the first state to pass the “Blue Lives Matter” law, other states are showing it won’t be the last.

In March, Governor Matt Bevin (R-KY), enacted a similar bill and on Monday, Governor Doug Ducey (R-AZ) also signed a “Blue Lives Matter” bill into law.

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According to Fox 10, the legislation creates tougher sentences for assaults on off-duty law enforcement officers. The Arizona Republic further explained that it is now a felony to attempt to take an off-duty officer’s gun, handcuffs, or other weapon.

Democratic critics of the bill claimed that it was “an affront to the Black Lives Matter movement,” and has nothing to do with whether someone supports law enforcement.

State Representative Reginald Bolding told The Arizona Republic, “this is a bill that is searching for a problem when there is not one.”

However, Republican supporters stood by the belief that off-duty officers deserve higher protections and State Senator Steve Smith, the bill’s sponsor, said he was simply enhancing legislation that is already in place.

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In a statement to Fox 10, the Arizona governor said:

Our police officers put their lives on the line every day to defend our communities and keep our streets safe. Their job is dangerous enough already, and we have zero tolerance for anyone who would target officers simply for doing their jobs.

The statement went on to declare, “this legislation sends the clear message that Arizona stands firmly by its men and women in uniform, and I am proud to sign it.”

Under the “Blue Lives Matter” law, prosecutors will have to prove an off-duty officer was targeted based on his profession in order to level the same aggravated assault charges as if he was in uniform.