If you’re thinking about teasing a police officer in the state of New York, think again. A new law passed by the state Senate could land you in prison for up to four years if you are found “aggravating” a cop.
The law, originally proposed by upstate Republican Sen. Joseph Griffo, passed in the Senate earlier this month. The purpose of the law is “to establish the crime of aggravated harassment of a police officer or peace officer and make such crime a class E felony.”
“Police officers all across this state put their lives on the line every day to protect the people of New York. New York state must establish laws and toughen existing laws that protect the police from becoming victims of criminals,” Griffo outlines in the bill. “Far too many law enforcement officers are being harassed, injured, even killed while honoring their commitment to protect and serve this state.”
The bill is set go to the Assembly, and if passed, it would take effect in November. In further detail, aggravating a police officer includes harassing, annoying, threatening or alarming. It also includes striking, kicking, shoving or other physical contact.
“Professionally, I am grateful to see this bill pass through the Senate. Our police officers have a very dangerous job and need the support of our government leaders to help make them safe,” said Utica Police Department Chief Mark Williams. “All too often, persons are physically challenging police officers in the line of duty. Currently, in those instances where an officer is physically attacked [short of sustaining a physical injury], the lawful charge is only a violation.”
Critics of the law say that it opens the floodgates for the officers, especially the NYPD, to come down on citizens. The law comes up during a turbulent time in the city, as the Community Safety Act proposed by the City Council could bring changes to the NYPD.
“As far as I can tell, injuring and killing police officers in unjustified situations is already illegal. Thus, the point of this law cannot possibly be to prevent that from happening, as there are already laws in place for that purpose,” said legal expert Georgia Sand from the University of California, Los Angeles. “This would the same as saying that a law against annoying/pestering/harassing women should be passed because too many women are being raped and killed. The former simply has nothing to do with the latter.”