Starting September 1, police in Texas will have a new layer of legislative protection in the form of an amendment that makes it a hate crime to attack police officers. Texas is one of only a handful of states, including Louisiana, Kentucky and Mississippi, that have signed this kind of legislation (sometimes referred to as “Blue Lives Matter” laws) into law, though many states have considered it.
Supporters of the law cite recent high-profile incidents involving police shootings, including the July 2016 incident in Dallas where a gunman killed five and injured nine officers. That incident was the deadliest incident for U.S. law enforcement since the September 11 terrorist attacks. The hate crime classification for attacking police, proponents argue, creates a deterrent effect on potential attackers due to increased penalties.
Opponents believe that the law is unnecessary, citing laws that already exist for the purpose of police protection (attacking a law enforcement officer is an aggravating factor that can lead to harsher charges). The director of legal affairs at the Anti-Defamation League said that such a law goes against the concept of what a hate crime is, and that hate crime legislation should be based only on immutable characteristics such as race. Furthermore, crimes in Texas very rarely are actually prosecuted as hate crimes due to the difficulty of proving without a doubt that a crime was motivated by hate toward a specific group.
Do you think it should be a hate crime to target police officers? Sound off in the comments.