Bill Makes Hate Crimes Of ‘Responder’ Assaults

By: 
Mark Toor | THE CHIEF LEADER

Leaders of first-responders’ unions last week praised a bill introduced in the State Legislature that would make offenses committed against their members hate crimes, thereby increasing the maximum sentences.

Its key sponsors are State Sens. Martin J. Golden of Brooklyn, Fred Akshar of Binghamton and Patrick Gallivan of the Buffalo area, and Assemblyman Peter J. Abbate Jr. of Brooklyn. All three Senators are Republicans and law-enforcement veterans; Mr. Abbate is a Democrat.

‘Targeted Due to Uniform’

 

“Men and women who voluntarily put the uniform on every day are being targeted specifically because of that uniform that they wear,” Mr. Akshar, a former Sheriff’s Deputy in Broome and Che­nango counties, said at a press conference Jan. 30.

“That’s the exact reason behind the Community Heroes Protection Act. It’s one which would designate any crime that targets anyone who has a job to protect the community as a punishable hate crime.”

“Although there will always be danger, I am confident that the Community Heroes Protection Act will help protect New York State,” said Mr. Golden, who left the NYPD after being seriously injured making an arrest.

“It’s common sense to protect those who keep us safe every day,” Mr. Abbate said.

Current Protected Classes

The state hate-crimes law says it covers victims “intentionally selected, in whole or in part, because of their race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation.”

The bill would add police officers and other first-responders to that list. Responders would be included if they were targeted because of their uniforms or activities.

Such crimes that are C, D or E felonies would be bumped up one level for sentencing purposes. For example, a C-level assault that normally would have a maximum sentence of 7 years could be upgraded to a B felony, worth as much as 15 years. Other C felonies include manslaughter and several firearms violations.

Union leaders speaking at the press conference and interviewed later were positive about the legislation.

 

“New York State is sending a clear message that it stands with law enforcement and other emergency personnel who put their lives on the line to keep the public and our local communities safe,” said Elias Husamudeen, president of the Correction Officers Benevolent Association.

“We support the concept that any assault against a police officer, firefighter, fire officer, a member of the Emergency Medical Services, every first-responder should have an additional penalty come with it and be seen as an aggravating factor,” said Jake Lemonda, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association.

Daily Risks

“Our Firefighters and so many other first-responders put their lives at risk every single day to rescue others,” said James Slevin, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association. “To know that criminal acts—against our heroes—are on the rise is a serious concern…This bill will help ensure that crimes targeted against our brave emergency-service workers will be punishable as hate crimes.”

Israel Miranda, who heads the Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics and Fire Inspectors Local 2507 of District Council 37, said assaults are the leading cause of injury among first-responders nationwide.

“But this is not about your normal assault,” he said. “This is about any first-responder and any uniformed employee who is assaulted or killed because of the uniform they wear and the job they do. This is unacceptable.”